31 August 2009

Hurry Up Home

On this day in 1939, 700 Americans managed to leave France aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary as it departed European waters and headed for the United States. They joined about 1,500 other passengers, including John Pierpont Morgan, eager to return home before war broke out in Europe. All together, nearly 2,000 Americans departed France --1,100 finding passage on the S.S. Manhattan (cots were reportedly jammed into every corner to accomodate the passengers, who included actresses Grace Moore and Norma Shearer).

NY Times

30 August 2009


On this day in 1939, the R.M.S. Queen Mary began her last pre-war sailing to New York from Southampton on her regular transatlantic route. For the next seven years, she would be the Gray Ghost, transporting troops, prisoners-of-war, and finally warbrides home to America.

Queen Mary by James Steele

29 August 2009

Spring in her Step

On this day in 1966, the R.M.S. Queen Mary completed her fastest transatlantic crossing since winning the Blue Riband in 1938. She arrived in Southampton four days, ten hours, and six minutes from her New York departure.

28 August 2009


On this day in 1951, the R.M.S. Queen Mary docked in New York after a rough journey across the Atlantic. Passengers arrived with cuts and bruises, and one crewmember had to be hospitalized. It would be another seven years before the ship would be fitted with stabilizers to lessen her tendency to roll in storms.

New York Times

27 August 2009

Colonel Warden Returns

On this day in 1943, Winston Churchill, along with 15,116 American troops, set out from New York to Gourock, Scotland, aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. Churchill had arrived in the United States in May, also aboard the Mary, at which time the ship's main deck had been transformed into a series of offices for his delegation. When a passenger, Churchill used the code name, "Colonel Warden," and it was in his shipboard suite that he first laid out the plans for D-day.

Queen Mary website
Queen Mary by James Steele

26 August 2009

Back to Work

On this day in 1949, Hedy Lamarr arrived in New York aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after vacationing in Europe. Lamarr's film, Samson and Delilah, in which she starred as Delilah alongside Victor Mature's Samson, would be released in December.

New York Daily News


From the New York Times on this day in 1937:

AUTOGRAPH HORDE OUSTED FROM LINER; Officials Open Drive Against Annoyers of Celebrities at Sailing of Queen Mary

The Cunard White Star Line fired a shot yesterday for which the traveling public and steamship men have been listening for years. As the liner Queen Mary prepared to sail for Channel ports with 1,200 passengers, special policemen emplayed by the line herded two score autograph hunters from the ship and told them to leave the pier.

25 August 2009

Still Speedy

Today in 1966, the R.M.S. Queen Mary was a day into her speediest eastbound crossing since setting her Blue Riband record in 1938.

Voyage # 486 took four days, ten hours and six minutes.

Queen Mary website

24 August 2009

23 August 2009

Sailing into the Storm

On this day in 1939, Maureen O'Sullivan sailed aboard the Queen Mary for England. She was on her way to join Robert Montgomery in "Busman's Honeymoon" which was being filmed at M.G.M. Studios in Denham.

However, only two weeks later, O'Sullivan would hastily return to the United States aboard Pan American Airways' Yankee Clipper as war clouds gathered over Europe. Constance Cummings would take her place in the film.

She is pictured here aboard the Queen Mary with her sister, Sheila, just before sailing time.

New York Times

22 August 2009


From Time on this day in 1938:

Transport: Record Again

Like a spirited saddle-horse bound homeward to stable and hay, the Queen Mary went home last week even faster than she had run westward to the U. S. week before. Both trips were faster than previous records held by the Normandie. Eastbound time: 3 days, 20 hr., 42 min., better than the Normandie's year-old eastbound record by 1 hr., 25 min., better than her own week-old westbound record by 1 hr., 6 min. Longest day's run: 738 miles.

21 August 2009

Queen Marlene

On this day in 1939, Marlene Dietrich returned from Europe aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary after a two-month vacation in London, Paris, and the South of France. Dietrich was on her way to Hollywood where she was scheduled to begin filming "Destry Rides Again" alongside James Stewart.

19 August 2009

Dashing Home

On this day in 1936, Jesse Owens caught a train at Waterloo for Southampton and the Queen Mary. The fastest man alive was bringing back to the United States four gold medals won at that summer's Olympic games in Berlin--much to Adolf Hitler's dismay.

Once home, Owens was looking forward to cashing in on his success. According to Time, offers included $4,000 a week from Eddie Cantor "...just to take him on a personal tour."

Getty Images

18 August 2009

Final Journey

Appearing in Time magazine on this day in 1947:

"Died. Gipsy Rodney Smith, 87, British evangelist whose gently persuasive voice pulled hundreds of thousands of repentant sinners to camp meeting altars all over the world for five decades; of a heart attack; on board the U.S.-bound Queen Mary."

Though Smith was a Methodist, his followers came from all denominations. In recognition of his services during World War I, when he often visited the front lines, King George VI made him a member of the Order of the British Empire.

He had undertaken the transatlantic journey in the hopes it would improve his health, but the Queen Mary's physicians said he was stricken by several heart attacks en route to the United States. Just before his death, he had asked to be taken to the top deck of the ship to greet some friends.

The Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida

17 August 2009

So Long, Yanks

On this day in 1945, the Queen Mary sailed out of Southampton with 15,000 American troops, most belonging to the 30th division, and the staffs of three hospitals onboard.

They are shown here getting some rest above decks as they head home to the United States.

Getty Images
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

16 August 2009

Jack and Mary and Mary

Aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on this day in 1950 were Jack Benny and his wife, Mary Livingston, traveling home after a stay in Europe.

The couple is shown here outside the Verandah Grill.


15 August 2009

New Record

From the Ludington Daily News, Ludington, MI, on this day in 1938:

Queen Mary Sets New East Record

Southampton, Eng., Aug. 15. - AP - Three days, 20 hours and 42 minutes is the new speed record for eastward crossing of the Atlantic by boat.

The liner Queen Mary of the Cunard White Star line made it in that time from Ambrose Light off New York to Bishops Rock, Seilly Islands, where she arrived at 1:42 p.m. Sunday to capture the Atlantic blue ribbon from the French Line's Normandie.

The average speed was 31.69 knots for 2,938 miles. The average to Cherbourg (3,094 miles from New York) was a bit better, 31.72 knots and Capt. R.B. Irving felt this should stand as the liner's record. The time to Cherbourg was four days, two hours, 37 minutes. (Cunard White Star officials announced the Bishop's Rock record).

Her time to the rock clipped one hour and 25 minutes from the Normandie's best time. The Queen Mary also had bettered by one hour and 14 minutes the westward record of the Normandie, her pennant rival of the last two years, with a 30.99 knot average for three days, 21 hours and 48 minutes to Ambrose Light.

13 August 2009

Land Lubber

On this day in 1948, one-time owner of the Chrysler Buidling in New York City and co-founder of Century City in Los Angeles, William Zeckendorf, Sr., arrived with his wife an daughter from Europe aboard the RMS Queen Mary. One of the most prominent real estate developers in the United States, he also developed Roosevelt Airfield, where Charles Lindbergh departed on his famous transatlantic flight. Architects I.M. Pei and Le Corbusier worked on many of his projects before he went bankrupt in 1965.

New York Daily News

12 August 2009

Star Crossing

On this day in 1952, actor Ralph Bellamy and his wife returned to the U.S. aboard the RMS Queen Mary. They had spent six weeks in Europe for business and pleasure. Bellamy at the time was starring in the T.V. series, Man Against Crime.

11 August 2009

Those Were the Days

Aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1948:

Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Charles Boyer. An embarrassment of riches.


10 August 2009

No Fool

On this day in 1942, Commodore Cyril G. Illingworth assumed command of the RMS Queen Mary for the first time in his long career. Illingworth had joined the Cunard Line in 1910. Besides the Queen Mary, he served aboard the Scythia, the Berengaria, the Queen Elizabeth; on the Ascania, he once stood watch 75 hours as the ship navigated bad weather. Interviewed in 1947 by Time for an article about the Mary's return to peacetime service, of which he was in command, Illingworth said, "In the North Atlantic trade we have a saying: 'We blow the fog horn for five hot-weather months and blow on our fingers to keep warm the other seven.' When fogs abound, any captain of a ship like this who doesn't watch the sea...is a fool, sir, a fool."

Queen Mary by James Steele

09 August 2009

Not So Fast...

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1932:

CUNARD MERGER DENIED.; Official Calls Report Untrue, and White Star Men Agree.

08 August 2009

Baby on Board

Sailing aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1954 - this cutie pie:

Jane Bradley, of Tonbridge, England, was on her way to America with her parents where her father had taken a teaching position in Maryland.


07 August 2009

Held Up

On this day in 1936, Mrs. Mildred O'Neill was forced to charter an airplane to France in order to catch the Queen Mary at Cherbourg. Mrs. O'Neill missed boarding at Southampton due to the fact she had spent the night in jail. When Marylebone police arrested her for shoplifting from a West End store, she stated that she'd had two glasses of port wine and that her mother-in-law was dying. Before her departure from London, where she had been on vacation with her husband, the magistrate declared that her "comfortable circumstances" aggravated the offense.

New York Times

06 August 2009

Perry and Mary

On this day in 1936, the world's top ranking tennis star at the time, Fred Perry, sailed for New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Perry, who had once been romantically involved with Marlene Dietrich, said he would seek his third U.S. Open singles title (he had won previously in 1933 and 1934).

Not only is Perry credited with inventing the sweatband, he created his own popular line of polo shirts, which today third-ranked British tennis player, Andy Murray, has adopted as his clothing sponsor.

Perry is shown here on the Queen Mary boat train.

Getty Images
New York Times

05 August 2009

Father Goes Best

On this day in 1954, Robert Young was on his way to Southampton with his family aboard the RMS Queen Mary. The actor's lastest film, The Secret of the Incas, in which he starred alongside Charlton Heston, had been released in the spring. Young would also appear that year on the Ford Televsion Theater in Keep it in the Family.


04 August 2009

Trend Setter

From the Sydney Morning Herald on this day in 1936:


Influence on Fashion


Handbags, buttonholes, hats, and frocks have "gone to sea" in London. The giant liner Queen Mary is responsible.

It is now fashionable to own a liner-handbag. The most popular are shaped and coloured to resemble the Queen Mary herself. My own handbag looks like this.

The bottom is black leather; the top quarter is white leather with holes punched to resemble portholes. The clasp is three red funnels. From the centre funnel to the front of the bag is a silver chain bearing a miniature anchor.

Sailor Hats.

In keeping with these bags are the new round sailor hats. These are like American sailor caps, and are worn in wool-and-silk mixtures of all colours, as well as in white pique. The little hats are exceptionally becoming and are splendid for motoring, as it is impossible for them to blow away.

Frocks show the same trend. Heavy white silk or pique sailor-dresses with square collars are being displayed for tennis wear; while Queen Mary blue, a soft bluey-green seawater colour, is a new favourite for organdie blouses.

For traveling there are new silk-covered rubber-lined zip-fastened toilet bags, decorated with a gay design of seagulls and minature liners.

03 August 2009

Stowaway Away

On this day in 1955, Richard David Martin of Cleveland, Ohio, was returned to the RMS Queen Mary after jumping overboard about half a mile from Southampton and swimming ashore a mile up the River Itchen.

Police found Martin resting on a park bench in Southampton, wet and covered in oil and mud. He informed them that he had stowed away on the Queen Mary in New York and that he had gone undetected the entire crossing.

Once returned to the ship, Martin was placed under guard until it sailed for New York.

The Age