31 October 2009

The Last Hurrah

30 October 2009

Life in the Big City

From the Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH, on this day in 1948:

Woman's Voyage Canceled by Thief
From the Blade Correspondent
VAN WERT, O., Oct. 30 - Mrs. Harry Thomas, Jr., was back home in Van Wert today after the theft of luggage, tickets and passport in New York City a few minutes before she was to sail for England.

A thief had pried open an automobile door while Mrs. Thomas was eating after she had left her hotel to board the liner Queen Mary. She was forced to cancel her planned visit with her parents in England.

29 October 2009

Welcome Aboard!

Reported in the Rome News-Tribune of Rome, Georgia, USA, on this day in 1972, Mr. Harry Erickson of Danville, IL, became the two-millionth person to tour the Queen Mary since her final docking at Long Beach, California, in 1967.

The ship is pictured above a couple of years later, in July 1974.

28 October 2009

Sir Edgar R.I.P.

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle on this day in 1936:

Death Takes Wheel From Noted Skipper

SOUTHAMPTON, England, Oct. 28. (AP) - Commodore Sir Edgar Britten, commander of the British queen of the seas, the liner Queen Mary, died today, a few hours after he was stricken by paralysis.

He was 62 years old.

Sir Edgar suffered the stroke just before the Queen Mary was due to leave for New York. Captain R. V. Peel assumed command while Sir Edgar was rushed to a nursing home, where he died.


Sir Edgar joined the service of the Cunard lines in 1901 and was appointed commodore of the Cunard-White Star lines in 1935.

He first went to sea as a youth of 18 in sailing ships in 1892, serving his apprenticeship for command nearly half a century later of the world's fastest transatlantic liner.

27 October 2009

Rolling into Southampton

On this day in 1936, the Queen Mary arrived in Southampton from New York three and a half hours late due to a violent storm in the English Channel. Captain Peel, commander of the Cunarder [pictured], said the ship rolled considerably as the wind blew 55 miles an hour on the starboard quarter, and that speed was reduced 14 knots accordingly.

Four crew members and eight passengers were injured in the gale, including Mrs. Fieldsend, an elderly passenger in third class, who was taken from the ship's hospital to a local area hospital to recover.

Getty Images
The Sydney Morning Herald

26 October 2009

Mountainous Mine-Strewn Seas

From the Deseret News on this day in 1945

Queen Mary Caught in Storm

LONDON - (AP) - The great liner Queen Mary, with 1000 passengers aboard, rolled at anchor off the Isle of Wight in mountainous, mine-strewn seas today in the fourth day of gales which wrecked four small vessels with an indicated loss of 14 seamen.

For the second day the Queen Mary was unable to proceed into her dock at Southampton because of waves 50 feet high in England's worst storm in 20 years.

Countless thousands of mines were reported in the raging seas and the waves were breaking up minefields planted in the war. The admiralty said 65,000 mines were sewn in fishing waters of the east coast alone and only 6500 had been cleared.

The violent gales, sometimes reaching 90 miles an hour, tossed at least 40 ships like barks perilously close to shore in the Straits of Dover.

The 10,000-ton U.S. hospital ship John J. Meany ran wild during the night in the Straits of Dover slewing broadside down a narrow lane of tossing ships.

25 October 2009

Operation Harlow

From The Spokesman, Spokane, Washington, on this day in 1964:

'Harlow' Is Rehearsed on Liner

ABOARD THE R.M.S. QUEEN MARY - Joseph E. Levine's "Operation Harlow" has gotten into full swing aboard this giant ocean liner as Carroll Baker, who will be transformed into Jean Harlow for her arrival in Southampton, has captured the attention of passengers and crew.

During her first day at sea, Miss Baker was photographed and interviewed by representatives of newspapers and magazines from Germany, France, Italy, England and the United States. Television crews making the unique trans-Atlantic voyage with film and sound equipment worked with Miss Baker in her stateroom on the promenade deck.

All of Miss Baker's free time is being spent in studying the mannerisms, habits, voice inflection, style of dress and make-up of Jean Harlow. She will make her first appearance as Harlow at the "Captain's Gala" dinner and dance in her honor the night prior to the Queen Mary's arrival in Southampton.

Joseph E. Levine will start production of "Harlow" at Paramount Studios in Hollywood Nov. 28.

24 October 2009


On this day in 1939, the Queen Mary and the Normandie were placed under heavy guard at Pier 90 in          
New York after a plot to sabotage both ships was discovered. United States naval intelligence reported that one of the ships was to be the target within the following weeks, though which one was unknown. In response, the ships were inspected and a sergeant and ten uniformed police officers were added to bolster the patrolmen already on duty. Two police launches patrolling river approaches also were put on heightened alert, and other police craft searched surrounding waters. Additionally, the NYPD assigned roaming squads detectives to the ships. About 700 crew were still aboard the Queen Mary, now in gray camouflage, while the Normandie's crew had returned to France.

St. Petersburg Times

Public domain - Australian government archives

23 October 2009

Engineer's Report, Voyage 269

R.M.S. Queen Mary, Southampton, 23rd October 1956

To: T. McLaren Esq.,
Superintendant Engineer, Liverpool


I wish to report the arrival of this vessel at Southampton on completion of Voyage 269, Southampton to New York via Cherbourg and return.


The vessel departed Cherbourg at 12.15 a.m. on the 12th October, 1956 and revolutions were gradually increased to 172 r.p.m., increasing to 174 r.p.m. at 8.48 a.m. the same day, and then maintained until reduced to 172 r.p.m. at 9.08 a.m. on the 13th October.

Owing to Heavy weather on the 13th October, Revolutions were reduced to 162 r.p.m. at 6.34 p.m. and after a period of 2 hours 20 minutes were increased to 172 r.p.m. at 8.54 p.m.

At midnight on the 13th October revolutions were reduced to 170 r.p.m., again reducing to 168 r.p.m. at 9.17 a.m. on the 14th October.

At 9.44 a.m. on the 14th October revolutions were reduced to 172 r.p.m., increasing again to 174 r.p.m. at 10.00 a.m. and further increasing to 175 r.p.m. at 10.31 the same day.

From 8.00 p.m. and onwards on the 14th October, the steam superheat and feed-water temperatures were gradually reduced, revoltuions being reduced accordingly until arrival off the S.S. "ANIA", position 41.10 n., 51. 40. W. at 11.57 p.m. the same day. After Manoeuvering main engines to bridge telegraph orders we proceeded on the passage to New York at 5.00 a.m. on the 15th October.

Owing to hurrucane conditions, various increases were carried out until 4.56 p.m. on the 15th October., when, after a period of 11 hours 56 minutes reduced speed, revolutions were gradually increased to 175 r.p.m.

These revolutions were maintained until 9.00 p.m. on the 16th October, when the steam superheat and feed-water temperatures were gradually reduced, revolutions being reduced accordingly.

Further reductions then followed to the Master's orders to arrive at A.C.L.V. to revised schedule.

New York:

9080 tons of oil fuel were shipped in New York and the Vessel departed Pier 90 with 8640 tons on board.

Two (2) water tube boiler were cleaned externally, also the centre funnel uptakes and lower funnel hatch platforms etc. cleaned by the Harbor Marine Corp.


The vessel departed the Company's berth at 5.00 a.m. on the 18th October 1956 and cleared A.C.L.V. at 7.12 a.m. the same day, when revolutions were gradually increased to 172 r.p.m., increasing to 174 r.p.m. the same day.

These revolutions were maintained until 5.00 p.m. on the 22nd October, when revolutions were reduced to 168r.p.m.

Further reductions then followed to the Master's orders to arrive at Cherbourg to revised schedule.

The Engineer Officers' Accomodation has been inspected daily by the Staff Chief Engineer and a Platform Second Engineer Officer.

The Ratings' Quarters have been inspected daily and an Engineer Officer has attended their mess-room at all times, no complaint of any note being received.

The following are the particulars of the Westbound and Eastbound Passages:

Oil Fuel per hour: WB 46.02 EB 47.90
Oil Fuel per 24 hours: WB 1104.48 EB 1149.60
Oil Fuel per Mile: WB 1.769 EB 1.676
Oil Fuel per 3000 Miles WB 5150.70 EB 5028.90

All domestic services have been maintained in a satisfactory manner.

All Engineer and Electrical Officers have carried out their duties to my satisfaction.

The general health of the department has been good throughout the voyage.

Yours faithfully,

R. Johnston
Chief Engineer

From www.cunardqueens.com

22 October 2009

Der Bingle

On this day in 1952, Bing Crosby was a passenger on the Queen Mary. He is shown here shipboard, signing autographs before departing.

Hopefully this crossing was more pleasant than one he undertook during World War II, while traveling overseas as part of the U.S.O. In his book, Warrior Without Weapons, medic Robert R. Copeland relates a story in which the crooner was reluctant to stick his head above decks:

"During the trip Bing's troupe entertained the soldiers on board, but the Old Groaner was never up in front of an audience on that particular voyage...Der Bingle had a terrible case of mal de mer.

"His ordeal began at Pier 90 when the Queen's 160,000 h.p. turbines started slowly edging the ship out into the middle of the Hudson River, and ended when forward motion ceased five days later...in Scotland.

"Of all the American entertainers who sailed with us...Bing Crosby was probably the most beloved by the British crewmen. About halfway across the Atlantic a two-man delegation, consisting of the ship's butcher and one of the chefs, sought me out to ask if I could come down and "'ave a look" at their hero. I asked if he was ill, and they nodded in unison.

"...I found him perched on the top of a mountain of 100-pound bags of potatoes in the D-Deck working alleyway which was next to the galley. This is where he had been since we left New York, and this is where he stayed for the entire voyage...

"...It was obvious why the ship's crew had become so concerned. His skin color was a ghastly green and he looked severely dehydrated...I had seen and smelled enough cases of seasickness to know that his acute case was complicated by another factor, but I hesitated to ask him about specific symptoms. But I was pretty sure my diagnosis was correct, and it was verified when I glimpsed the neck of a bottle of Seagram's poking up between potato bags.

"...One of the crewmen went back to the hospital with me and I gave him a few APC tablets, a giant can of pineapple juice, and an M-1 Army issue urinal duct.

"Late that evening as I was about to turn in I remembered my famous patient, and thought I'd better check on him before bedding down for the night. I found him sleeping peacefully on top of the potatoes with two sentinels on duty at the foot of the mountain. His color and overall appearance were much improved, but the can of pineapple juice was still too full for my liking, because dehydration is what we worry about most with seasickness.

"'Why won't he drink his juice?' I asked one of the men.

"'Oh, blimey, yes. Matter of fact 'e's been pullin' at it quite often...one of our blokes said 'e keeps fillin' it up with 'is other medikyshon...the one 'e keeps up there between the potato bags.'

"'Has he used his urinal?' I inquired.

"'Oh, my, yes, loike you advised we've been keepin' tracks on that. See the chalky marks on the bulkhead?'

I looked at the bulkhead, and the record seemed entirely satisfactory."

New York Daily News Photo Archive
Copeland, Robert R.: Warrior Without Weapons

20 October 2009

Glamour Redux

On this day in 1964, actress Carol Baker was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on her way to England for the London premier of her film The Carpetbaggers. She is pictured in her stateroom a la Jean Harlow.

Getty Images

19 October 2009

Lord, Lady, Queen

On this day in 1938, Lord and Lady Duveen departed Waterloo Station on the boat train for their journey aboard the Queen Mary. Lord Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen of Millbank, was a well-known and successful art dealer whose clients included William Randolph Hearst, Henry Huntington, and John D. Rockefeller.

The couple is pictured here at Waterloo Station.

Getty Images

18 October 2009

Her Own Power

From The Evening Independent in 1938



New York, Oct. 18. -AP- The Queen Mary, largest British ship afloat, docked under her own power because of the tugboat strike.

The berthing was completed in 34 minutes from the time she arrived off the end of her pier.

The liner brought 1,601 passengers and $25,000,000 in gold from Europe.

One line snapped as the ship began use of her winches to bring her to the side of her pier but others were immediately put out and the propellers started. The Queen Mary drifted 75 feet before she was brought about.

17 October 2009

Call Me

From The Age on this day in 1946:

Calling the Atlantic

After a lapse of six war years it is again possible for a person in Australia to speak to a person on board the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth or the Aquatania [sic] while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The restoration of this radio-telephone service was announced yesterday by the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron, who said that the minimum charge would be £4 10/, plus 1/ in the pound exchange, based on £1 10/ a minute. The service would be available daily except Sunday at the following times, 5:15 to 7:15 and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Eastern standard time.

16 October 2009

From Soup to Nuts

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle on this day in 1936


An experience of a lifetime came to Mrs. Teckla Carlson when she was asked to be the guest of the Cunard-White Star Queen Mary Inspection party. She spent two and a half days at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and attended a banquet and spent a day aboard the Queen Mary.

Mrs. Carlson described the linen, silver, glass and china as the "last word" in the dignified modernistic.

The food at the banquet that most took her eye was the lobsters. Everything from "soup to nuts" was served in a distinguished and interesting manner. Her souvenir menu was autographed by Commodore Sir Edgar Britten, R.D., R.N.R., commander of the Queen Mary.

Mrs. Carlson described the ship as a floating hotel.

Carries Huge Stores
On every round trip the ship carries 280 barrels of flour, 250 crates of oranges, 1200 pounds of coffee, 200 boxes of western apples, 60,000 eggs, 3600 pounds of cheese, six tons of fresh fish, 3600 pounds of butter, 3600 quarts of  milk, 1288 pounds of sugar, five tons of hams and bacon, 2000 quarts of ice cream, 20 tons of meat and fowl, 850 pounds of tea and 1000 pineapples.

The ship has 60,000 cubic feet of refrigeration space, which would equal the average refrigerator space of 15,000 average homes.

More than 40,000 meals are prepared each single trip, and there are more than half a million pieces of china, glass and silver in use.

The linen room for each trip is stocked with 21,000 table cloths, 210,000 towels, 30,000 sheets, 31,000 pillow slips and 92,000 napkins. All linen was especially designed for the ship, Mrs. Carlson said.

[Caption: Do Spokane women envy Mrs. Teckla Carlson? She has just returned from a trip to New York where she was a guest of the Cunard-White Star Line board (sic) the great new ship, the Queen Mary. "The cuisine of the ship is excellent and the dining service in keeping with the appointments of the ship," she said. "So steady is the Queen Mary at 30 miles an hour that a cup of coffee filled to the brim left standing 24 hours will not have spilled a drop."]

15 October 2009

Musical Fares

On this day in 1953, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein caught the boat train for Southampton where they would board the R.M.S. Queen Mary. The songwriting partners are pictured here with their wives at Waterloo Station.

Getty Images

14 October 2009

Not on the Passenger List But...

On this day sculpted out of redwood by artist Edmund Kara, Elizabeth Taylor was loaded onto the Queen Mary in New York for transport to Paris. According to the MGM public relations department, the statue would be kept "in a private, temperature-controlled stateroom...with all of the loving, tender care and security reserved for the Mona Lisa." A first class stateroom was reserved for the statue to avoid damage it might undergo traveling in the cargo hold.

The statue, insured by Lloyd's of London for $100,000, was to be used in scenes for Taylor's film, The Sandpiper.

Liz is pictured here in earlier days with her dogs aboard the Queen Mary.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Getty Images

13 October 2009

Havoc Good Journey

On this day in 1956, actress June Havoc was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on her way home to the United States. June was known not only for starring in pictures like Brewster's Millions and Gentleman's Agreement, but for being the younger sister of burlesque entertainer and "stripteaser", Gypsy Rose Lee. She is pictured here at Waterloo Station on  her way to catch the ship at Southampton.

Getty Images

11 October 2009

Good News

Published 1992 on this day by the New York Times:

TRAVEL ADVISORY; Queen Mary Will Remain In California

The Queen Mary is apparently going to stay at her longtime berth in Long Beach, Calif., after a summer in which bidders from around the world tried to give the liner-turned-tourist attraction a new home.

The City of Long Beach, where the 800-foot Art Deco liner had been berthed since 1967, agreed on Sept. 30 to assume ownership. The ship's owner, the Harbor Commission of the Port of Long Beach, will give the ship to the city at no cost and will contribute toward its renovation. The ship's hotel closed Sept. 30. The city hopes to find a new operator and reopen it sometime next year. Plans are to continue tours of the Queen Mary and keep the three restaurants open during the transition.

The commission had put the ship's future up for grabs when the Walt Disney Company announced in March that it would no longer operate the Queen Mary. The port commission entertained 18 bids, most of which would have moved the ship. The city said last month it intended to accept the highest bid, a $20 million offer that would move the ship to Hong Kong. The $20 million would have gone to the city, but Long Beach, decided to forgo the money and keep the ship.

The chief concern about keeping the Queen Mary is the cost of maintenance and renovations. "She's 60 years old," said Harbor Commissioner Roy E. Hearrean. "With ships, the maintenance increases dramatically with age. It could get out of hand for the city."

The Queen Mary, at 1126 Queensway Drive, (310) 435-3511, is open from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. daily; admission is $10.

Copyright Karen Clark

10 October 2009

The Lyons Share

Bebe Daniels and her husband actor Ben Lyon were aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on this day in 1954. Daniels early career included an ongoing role as Harold Llyod's leading lady in silent films such as Billy Blazes, Esq. and Nothing But Trouble. Ben Lyon's best known feature film role was alongside Jean Harlow in the 1930 film, Hell's Angels.

The BBC show, Life with the Lyons, featuring the couple and their children, ran on radio and then television from 1950 to 1960.

The couple are shown here posing for photographers as the ship arrived in Southampton.


09 October 2009

Nothing Gold Can Stay

On this day in 1947, the R.M.S. Queen Mary docked in New York with $40 million in gold to be deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank. The bullion, withdrawn by the British government, came from the Bank of England which was cashing in its reserves to pay off war debts. The Queen Elizabeth had delivered the same amount the previous week.
The Milwaukee Sentinel

08 October 2009

The Sea His Surgery

On this day in 1955, the New York Times reported that Dr. Joseph Maguire, senior surgeon for the Cunard Line and author of The Sea My Surgery, resigned his post aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. He had served on the liner for eight years before making his announcement as the ship departed Southampton for New York. He gave as his reason disagreement between himself and the company.

In his book Dr. Maguire reflected fondly on his time aboard the Queen Mary:

"The last ship is always the best ship. That's an ancient saying among seamen and in my case it was certainly true. My last love was the Queen Mary. For eight years after the upheaval of war, when we were both growing a little older, we sailed together. She is a beautiful thing with all the dignity of her original namesake. More than that she embodies the vanishing craftsmanship of men who went about their work with a quiet grim satisfaction and never had any use for the phrase 'good enough'. With them work had to be 'good'.

"I sailed in eighteen different ships and made 275 Atlantic crossings excluding trooping trips, but my 150 peace-time voyages in the Queen Mary were easily the happiest in my life...I met real live people who might have been no more than newspaper names to me had I been in general practice ashore...I met everybody--the film-stars, the financiers whose thinking controlled global figures, the fashion experts whose thinking controlled any-shaped figures, the famous and the infamous, the lot."

New York Times

07 October 2009

Swim or Sink

From the Virgin Islands Daily News 0n this day in 1936:

A man will swim from New York to England aboard the Queen Mary.
The long distance swimmer will enter the ship's swimming pool
at the onset of the voyage and will tread water until
the liner reaches its docks
in Europe.

06 October 2009


From the New York Times on this day in 1935:

STEEL WORK SPEEDED ON THE QUEEN MARY; Cabin Furniture and Equipment Ready to Be Installed -- New Liner Leaves Clydebank May 12

According to advices received yesterday from Clydebank, the steel work on the Queen Mary is nearly completed and when the hull is ready a start will be made on the interior decorations. All the furniture and equipment for the cabins are ready to be installed.

05 October 2009

Heave Ho!

On this day in 1954, 25,000 New York longshoreman went on strike after contract renewal negotiations broke down. The walkout made unloading the Queen Mary difficult. Crew members are shown here doing double duty slinging passenger baggage at Pier 90.

New York Times

04 October 2009

Import Delivery

On this day in 1937, David Niven arrived in New York City aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. Next stop: Hollywood. His latest film, The Prisoner of Zenda, in which he starred alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Mary Astor, had premiered the previous month in New York.


03 October 2009

Take the Haste Train

On this day in 1938, in response to a warning issued by the United States consulate of impending war in Europe, Americans crowded Waterloo Station, waiting to board the boat train that would take them to the Queen Mary and home.


02 October 2009

No Surprise

From the Afro-American newspaper on this day in 1948:

(excerpt from "Big Town" by James Hicks)

...Keeping the record straight: New York newsmen say it's suicide to anger Moe Gale*, the theatrical man, but that "canned" story which you read last week on Ella Fitzgerald's great going away party aboard the Queen Mary was just so much eye wash.

Gale's office sent out a press release saying thousands of people had been at the pier to wish Ella bon voyage and that a big surprise party had been thrown for her by her friends.

Actually fewer than a hundred persons were there to see Ella off, and the most surprising thing about the "surprise party" occurred when Ella's well-wishers arrived to find her sailing "tourist class" instead of "first class"** as did the Rev. Smallwood Williams, AFRO prize winner. We were there, Sharlie. It's your floor, Mr. Gale.

*Known as the "Great White Father of Harlem," Moe Gale was a partner in the most popular dance venue in Harlem, the Savoy Ballroom. He discovered and mentored a number of musicians and groups.

**After World War II, class designations changed from Cabin, Tourist, and Third to First, Cabin, and Tourist.

01 October 2009

Merry on the Mary

From the Toronto Daily Star regarding this day in 1945:


New York, Oct. 2 - (CP) - Prime Minister Mackenzie King, beaming cheerfully at the embarkation crowd in cavernous Pier 90 on the Hudson river, yesterday sent his "very best regards to the Canadian people as he embarked on a fact-finding tour of Europe.

At 1 p.m. he was en route to Southampton aboard the giant Cunard liner Queen Mary.

The 70-year-old prime minister was in a gay mood as he waved his hat to photographers and then stepped briskly up the gangplank. Mr. King was reticent but polite as he hurried aboard the giant ship, the last passenger of note to board her before she nosed out into the Atlantic.

The prime minister arrived promptly at the ship at 11 a.m. - three hours after other passengers had been aboard. He paused for a moment to confer with shipping officials, then posed for photographers and went aboard.

He was the only passenger on the Queen Mary to be given a suite, although such notables as Francis Biddle, former U.S. attorney-general, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, chief of air staff of the R.A.F., and Lady Portal also were making the trip.

Mr. King will confer with Prime Minister Atlee in London before visiting the continent to see other European leaders.