31 January 2009
30 January 2009
29 January 2009
28 January 2009
27 January 2009
26 January 2009
After a 70 mile per hour gale left nearly a hundred passengers and crew members injured, some with broken bones and certainly all with shattered nerves, Cunard decided the time had finally arrived to modify the Queen Mary in order to reduce her characteristic shuddering in rough seas -- something that had long been a complaint of the crew who in their below-deck quarters keenly felt the ship's vibration. On January 26, 1958, she arrived at the King George V graving dock in
Despite the steadier Mary, some missed her more rambunctious days -- in particular a female crew member, who on one journey found herself, due to the ship's rolling, in the arms of Kirk Douglas: "Now the Queen Mary could roll," she reminisces on an audio tape at the Port Cities Southampton Website, "and then they stabilised her, and I think a lot of the fun went out of seagoing life then."Source:
25 January 2009
24 January 2009
On this day in 1938, Captain Robert B. Irving was made commodore of the Cunard White Star fleet. He succeeded Reginald V. Peel, who had retired in December.
Irving's first post with Cunard, in 1904, was as fourth officer on the Verica. Nine years later, while chief officer on the Lusitania, he left to join the Royal Navy. He was serving as lieutenant-commander of the light cruiser, Yarmouth, when it narrowly missed being hit by a shell at the Battle of Jutland during World War I. After the War, he joined the Mauretania, where he was staff captain, and in 1919 was given his first command, as captain of the Venonia. He took the helm of the Queen Mary in 1936, succeeding Commodore Peel, who was ailing. Despite Peel's desire to return to his post after four months of recuperation, he ultimately retired and Irving stepped in.
Commodore Irving was an avid tobacco user, and kept a collection of 120 pipes at his home, Castle Bonshaw Tower, in Scotland (he also kept a dozen more with him in his cabin while at sea). The New York Times described him as a "... commanding figure more than six feet tall, [with] a pleasant, breezy manner and a laugh that resounds throughout the dining room of his ship."
Given the size of the Queen Mary's dining room, it must have been a mighty big laugh.Source:
23 January 2009
22 January 2009
21 January 2009
On this day in England, 1947, the Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice found that the British Naval cruiser, Curacoa, was at fault in its collision with the troop ship, Queen Mary. The accident occurred in October, 1942, off the coast of Donegal, as the ship headed for the United Kingdom loaded with over 10,000 American G.I.s.. The Curacoa, acting as escort, cut across the Mary's bow as she followed her typical zig-zag course to avoid German u-boats. Unable to change direction in time, the giant liner cut the smaller cruiser in half. Three hundred and thirty eight men on the Curocoa perished as the ship went down. Originally it was reported that a u-boat was in the area, but this was later found to be untrue.
The action brought by the Admiralty against the Cunard White Star Line for £1,500,000 in damages was dismissed by Sir Gonne St. Clair Pilcher, the presiding judge; additionally, he ruled that court fees were to be paid by the Admiralty. In his opinion, the Queen Mary's captain was correct to assume the cruiser would stay out of the bigger ship's way and stated that the accident was "one which ought never to have been permitted to happen."
20 January 2009
On this day in 1961, a Reuters story in the New York Times reported that two more British shipbuilders had put in a bid to build the Queen Mary's replacement, for the "stateliest ship afloat" was now in her twilight years. The company, Vickers-Armstrongs and Swan, along with another, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, intended to form a joint company, each with a half interest. Had they won the contract, the keel would have been built at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England, with the outfitting taking place at the Walker Naval Yard in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Little did they or the other six bidders know that the 70,000 ton ship, expected to cost £30,000,000, would never be built due to lagging passenger revenues on the transatlantic route. However, in 1965--when the original ship was projected to sail on its maiden voyage--Cunard had apparently changed its mind; in July of that year, the keel was laid down in the John Brown Shipyard, Clydebank, for the Queen Elizabeth II [pictured above].Source:
19 January 2009
On this day in 1936, the New York Times published a story on Britain's move to regain its dominance of the sea lane "between Daunt's Rock and the Ambrose Channel Lightship" -- the former being the official starting point of the westbound transatlantic passage, the latter serving as a beacon marking the main shipping channel for New York Harbor. The Mauretania, Homeric, Majestic, and Olympic all had been retired, leaving the Queen Mary, with her impending sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, to fulfill the hopes and restore the pride of the British nation--for Germany's Europa and Bremen, as well as France's Normandie, were faster than any ship in the Cunard White Star line. Not only that, the Germans were maintaining a weekly service to New York, while the French were taking steps to establish one as well. Emphasizing the importance of the new liner, according to the NYT, the British government had turned down another group of London's shipowners seeking money for a passenger service to New York "whose star attraction was to be a £10 fare." All resources and energy were being put into the two Queens.Source:
18 January 2009
17 January 2009
Today in 1935, the New York Times reported Sir Edgar Britten [left] would take command of the British line fleet and be made a Cunard White Star commodore at the age of 60. At that time, a year after the launch of the Queen Mary and a year before her maiden voyage (which he helmed), Sir Edgar was master of the RMS Berengaria. The paper also reported that he flew "...the burgee at the main truck of his vessel" upon his arrival in Southampton.
16 January 2009
15 January 2009
14 January 2009
13 January 2009
12 January 2009
-Chilled Cavaillon Melon
-Compote of Prunes
-Onion Soup Gratinee
-Jelly and Parmentier Omelette
-Minced Chicken on Waffle
-Rolled Ox Tongue
-Horlick's Malted Milk
*Passengers on Special Diet are especially invited to make known their requirements to the Head Waiter.
Please email me if you know what Bemax is. Or if you've ever actually eaten a Jelly and Parmentier Omelet. Seriously, I'm interested.
11 January 2009
On this day, a Sunday in 1943, enduring Africa-hot temperatures as the Queen Mary races toward the Equator, avoiding German u-boats and surface raiders, RAF Sergeant Hanson, records in his clandestine journal:
10 January 2009
09 January 2009
08 January 2009
07 January 2009
06 January 2009
Today in 1967, Assault on a Queen, starring Frank Sinatra, was released in West Germany, seven months after its debut in the United States. According to the Internet Data Movie Base (IMDB), the plot, from a script written by none other than Rod Serling, involves adventurers planning to rob the Queen Mary on the high seas. I haven't yet seen it, but I've put it on my TiVo wish list. Some of the reviews on Amazon.com indicate it's somewhat boring, but personally I still want to check it out just to see the Mary's interiors. Another movie worth seeing for its QM connection: Lord Jeff, starring Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney. Having been made in 1938, it offers one of the few chances to see the ship before WWII.
05 January 2009
British Movietone has clips of Churchill's departures and arrivals, among other interesting things. Check it out: http://www.movietone.com/N_search.cfm (dates listed for clips are for broadcast).
04 January 2009
If you'd like a Queen's Grill Suite, it will set you back a mere $80,529.78. Small change, right? Especially for butler service 24/7 and evening canapés and personalized Cunard stationery--among other privileges. Of course there are less expensive accommodations, ranging from $66,729.44 for a Princess Grill Suite to $23,189.56 for a Brittania inside room. But no problem--you've got a whole year to save up! Now how many quarters does it take to get to $80,000...?
*For more details, see the official Cunard website.