24 December 2010

"Do it again, Aberdeen"

This week in the history of the Queen Mary:

From the Evening Post on December 21, 1935:


When I was last inside the Queen Mary in Clydebank yard there was a forest of pine trees in her, strutting and shoring her shell for the long period in which she was to stand on the stocks waiting for work to be resumed, and the men to surge into her again, and the vast structure to echo again to the pneumatic riveters in the building, says a writer in the "Manchester Guardian." At that time there were even rumours that the giant--"No. 534," as she was then--might never be completed. Now she is afloat nearby in the fitting dock, 23ft of her in the Clyde and her vast bulk towering over the yard, now crowned with her three red funnels, the third of which was set in recently. Like warship funnels they are of different height, with the smallest the aft one. The fore funnel, which is taller, is high enough to carry its smoke clear of the ship. The stepping-down effect of the funnels adds to the streamline appearance of the ship, and like the other changes that have taken place in the silhouette of big liners it seems odd at first, but soon the eye apprehends that the ship is an integral whole in functional harmony. Although so much bigger than the Empress of Britain, the Queen Mary looks more elegant, chiefly through the longer run forward in proportion from the bridge deck to her bow, giving better space for the foremast....

The huge ventilators on the boat deck of a simplified pattern with flattish sides, which are being clamped into position, also add to the raking look of the ship. A curious point that adds detail almost like embroidery is the close mass of rivet-heads, about midships, coming down in narrowing shape from the main deck to the fourth deck, at one point almost in line with the bridge...One of the points, by the way, that form part of the ships' designers' calculations is the effect of the difference of temperature in the superstructure and in the hull as it is affected by the sea...Propellers...are still a developing part of marine propulsion, and Messrs. Brown must have given great thought and made many experiments on models before the final form was settled. The effect of "hammer" by the broken water on propeller blades in certain circumstances is a factor in vibration, a subject that is particularly occupying the minds of big shipping companies.

Inside the ship the lay visitor finds himself in a labyrinthine iron factory with irons sides and loose, red-painted iron plates marked with chalk diagrams and figures, and the shapes of windows chalked on the side of iron walls where the windows are to be cut. The library, a high iron hall, is particularly gloomy, for the windows there have mostly still to be cut. The swimming bath, however, has its handsome blue composite marble columns with gilt lines and gay enamelled tiling in position, with gaunt iron framing beneath. The cocktail bar is a dark, narrow dungeon inconceivable to the people who will be in the radiantly decorated chamber it will be next summer. Tomorrow these halls, dining-rooms, and lounges and cabins and corridors will be soft under foot, charmingly decorated and the centre of rich, holiday life; today Jock Macmillan and his mate have chalked their inmost thoughts on the bare iron structure on which all that is to be--"Good old Rangers" and "Do it again, Aberdeen." Another scrawl had a light-hearted reference to Mae West.

In 1948, the Lewiston Daily News reported that Somerset Maugham had arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary declaring he'd written his last novel, preferring at that stage in his life to write essays and literary criticism. The purpose of his visit in the United States was to see friends and to buy underwear because, he said, "I haven't got any coupons in England."

From an article entitled, "Stowaway Turns Trip Into European Tour," in the Dayton Beach Morning Journal on December 24, 1955:

New York (AP) - Stowing away unintentionally on the liner Queen Mary last June led to just "one silly incident after another," Richard D. Martin, 27, Cleveland advertising man, said on his return here yesterday.

The incidents included:
- Swimming ashore at Southampton.
- Taking a tour of Europe, as long as he was over that way anyhow.

Yesterday there was still another incident aboard the Saxonia: The FBI took him in tow [sic] hear all about it.

But to go back: Martin and a friend, John Dorsey, 27, also of Cleveland, attended a bon voyage party for some friends sailing aboard the Queen Mary from New York.

The friends urged them to go along, and, although the Clevelanders hadn't intended to, they somehow still were aboard when the ship put out to sea.

"We had the run of the ship," Martin said. "Everyone treated us kindly, and nobody knew we were not bona fide passengers."

However, he said, he became "apprehensive" when the ship anchored off Southampton July 2. He dived off and swam ashore, fully clothed and carryig his passport and about $400.

He was drying out on a park bench when a British policeman spotted him. Martin was lodged in jail for three days as a "stowaway."

He communicated with his father, Frank Martin, a farm machinery firm executive, who paid the steamship line for his passage. The father also enlisted the aid of Rep. Bolton (R-Ohio) to get a
State Dept. validation for the son's passport.

The the English sent young Martin to France and allowed him to reenter England legally from there. Properly documented and paid up, he stayed abroad.

In August, he said, he telephoned a friend, Miss Maribel Boyd, 23, a Toronto receptionist and asked her to visit Europe.

He said she rallied to the call and they visited several countries. They had hoped to get married in Rome and to vacation at Capri but red tape forced them to postpone the wedding, he said.

Martin said he understood Dorsey had returned to the U.S. meanwhile.

On December 23, 1961, The Portsmouth Times reported that Cunard had announced it would not go forward with its plans to replace the Queen Mary and that "Just in time [the company] has accepted the fact that to build such another liner, even with the gigantic subsidy the British government was willing to contribute, would have been to construct a floating white elephant."

17 December 2010

King, Sister, Lord & Anchor

From the Evening Post this week in 1936:

Testing The Anchor Chain

Before the liner Queen Mary went into service her giant anchor chain was tested to destruction. In the first test the whole chain withstood a pull equivalent to 289 tons. Then three link sections of the chain resisted a pull of more than 405 tons without signs of breaking. In a final test the pulling machine exerted a force of 693 tons before a link fractured.

Also this week in the history of the Queen Mary:

In 1948, King Peter of Yugoslavia arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary with his wife Alexandra for his first public appearance in America at a town hall meeting.

In 1950, Australian nurse Sister Kenny, who developed a way to treat polio victims with hot packs and exercise, departed the United States aboard the Queen Mary, declaring her mission in America complete.

And in 1960, an excerpt of The Memoirs of Lord Ismay, published in The Montreal Gazette, revealed that after deciding to transport a large British delegation to Washington for a conference, a shipment of kit bags originating in Suez was discovered to have infested the ship with vermin. Though Cunard employees rushed to decontaminate the area reserved for the delegation, other parts of the ship remained infested. "I regret to say," Lord Ismay said, "Sir William and Lady Beveridge soon bore unmistakable signs of ravage."

10 December 2010

Scotland Yard On Board

From the Ottawa Citizen this week in 1938:

"Queen Mary" Searched For Yugoslav Terrorists

Scotland Yard Officers Board Liner To Check Reports Assassins Sworn To Kill Regent of Yugoslavia Were Aboard. But Find None.

Plymouth, England, Dec. 7, - Special Scotland Yard officers boarded the liner Queen Mary today as she rode at anchor off Plymouth and checked reports that terrorists sworn to kill Prince Regent Paul of Yugoslavia were aboard.

The inspectors examined credentials of passengers scheduled to land in England, but it was understood no suspicious persons were found. The Yugoslav regent left London for Paris yesterday under extraordinary Scotland Yard protection. It was denied he left because of published reports Croatian terrorists were coming from New York too "get" him.

While Scotland Yard men were aboard the weather became so rough the tender lines snapped and the Queen Mary proceeded toward Southampton without disembarking 250 passengers from New York and unloading 2,000 bags of mail.

Only two passengers got on the tender before the lines broke. Sir Ronald Lindsay, British embassador to the United States, was among those forced to continue to Southampton.

03 December 2010

Getting Pumped Up

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1935:



Captain Sir Edgar Britten, the Commodore of the Cunard-White Star fleet and at present the commander of the Berengaria, arrived in Glasgow last night for the purpose of making a personal inspection of the Queen Mary, to the command of which he has been appointed.

Sir Edgar, who is staying at the Central Hotel, hopes to remain in Glasgow for three days.

He will visit the yard of Messrs John Brown and co. at Clydebank to-day, and will make a tour of the vessel in company with Captain Horsburgh, marine superintendent of the Cunard-White Star Line.

It was stated that Sir Edgar's inspection has no official significance, but is being undertaken from his own desire to see the giant vessel which he is to command.

In an interview he said that he did not expect to rejoin the Berengaria, but would be ashore until he took over command of the Queen Mary.

The arrival of the Queen Mary's commander coincided with an interesting stage in the vessel's history--the pumping into the storage tanks of thousands of gallons of fuel oil and lubricating oil, and the first appearance of smoke from the funnels.


The first of the three forward boilers was lit by the fuel oil, of which about 200 tons was pumped on board. The object was to boil out, so that it will be thoroughly cleaned to secure a head of steam to operate the three turbo-generators which will supply the power for the hotel services on board.

The other two forward boilers will also be lit up during the next few days.

In a similar way the other boilers in the vessel will be prepared later in December, and it is hoped that this preliminary work will pave the way for a complete engine trial in January. At this trial the whole of the engine-room mechanism controlling the propellers will be tested, but the propellers themselves will not be operated.

It is understood that at those tests the engines will be run at a speed considerably greater than is required for sailing purposes in order to prove the efficiency of the machinery. Following the engine trial the propeller shaft will be coupled, and there will be a trial at slow speed before the Queen Mary sails down the river.

25 November 2010

Video from British Pathe on this day in 1948:


18 November 2010

A Popular Point of Departure

From the Chicago Daily Tribune this week in 1936:


New York, Nov. 17. - (AP) - A passenger giving the name of Garner Marshall, 70, of Hilton Village, Va., was reported today to have disappeared from the liner Queen Mary early yesterday.

Ship's officers said Marshall, who was traveling alone in the third class, left a note addressed to the purser saying he intended to take his life. It was the second suicide of a passenger since the since the ship was launched.

The liner docked at 7 a.m. today, twenty-four hours late.

Marshall's son, Montague C. Marshall, who met the ship at the pier, said his father had brooded since the death of his wife last March. A retired farmer, he had been spending the summer with relatives in England.

10 November 2010

Strike Out

Video from British Pathe this week in 1947:


04 November 2010

28 October 2010

From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1937:

Crossing The Atlantic

Some idea of the size of the smokestacks of the "Queen Mary" can be gained by the fact that three railway locomotives could be placed inside one of them. Each of these stacks rises 70 feet from the boat dock. Fuel for the great engines is supplied by oil, of which thousands of tons are burned during a voyage.

Sometimes the sea has looked green to me, but now it seems very blue. The weather has been fine ever since we left New York. Yesterday we covered a distance of 710 knots or 817 miles. That is twice the distance some steamers cover in a day.

Passengers can amuse themselves in many ways while making an ocean voyage. Every liner seems to have the good old game called shuffle-board...Deck tennis is another common ship board sport. Rubber rings are used instead of tennis balls. A player tosses the ring over the net, and his opponent catches it and throws it back. There are ways of making the ring "wobble" so it is hard to catch. Today I played several games of deck tennis with a 12-year-old English girl, Moyca Field. She proved to be quite an expert in making the ring twist and turn as it went over the net.

Pingpong, quoits, dancing and talking pictures are other features of amusement on board. Each afternoon there is a picture show and each evening a dance. Passengers who like to read can have their choice of a large number of books in the ship library.

Going down one of the elevators, we reach a deck with a gymnasium and a large swimming pool. The pool contains salt water--fresh from the ocean. It is too deep for children unless they can swim.

Our voyage is now almost over. Early tomorrow morning we shall land some passengers at Cherbourg, France. Tomorrow afternoon the rest of us will anchor in England's great harbor - Southampton.

26 October 2010


From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1934:

A Geographical Aberration

After launching the biggest ship in the world Clydeside could be pardoned for thinking that "Glasgow and the Clyde" was a phrase known to all the world. To shatter our pride we have received a copy of a Buenos Aires paper, published the day before the launch of the Queen Mary, in which we read: --
To-morrow there will be launched at Glasgow the biggest Transatlantic liner in the world. The huge bulk will move down the greased ways, held back by chains to prevent it from sliding at a too excessive speed into the river Mersey. For some months they have been making careful preparations having calculated exactly the day and the hour when the autumn tides would be most favourable. It is impossible to neglect on this occasion a single centimetre of water, as the Mersey is only 700ft. broad and the Britannia is 1018ft. in length.
But it must be admitted that the geographical aberration of our Argentine contemporary was only a temporary one. When next day it reported that "el vapor Queen Mary" had been safely launched, it made it clear that it was into the waters of the "rio Clyde."

25 October 2010

Really Big Ship

From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1934:

Immense Public Rooms

The giant new Cunard White Star liner, Queen Mary, will have no less than 12 decks, according to latest information received here. Her passenger accommodation will provide for first-class travellers. The enormous size of the vessel has resulted in the provision of unusually large spaces for public rooms. The space provided for the first-class lounge is so great that nine double-decked London buses placed abreast with three "Royal Scot" engines placed on their roofs could easily be accommodated in the room. In the first-class restaurant-foyer there could be placed the hull of the first Cunarder, the Britannia (207 ft. in length) together with three vessels which comprised Columbus's fleet on his voyage of discovery to America.

24 October 2010

A Landing At Plymouth

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1938:


The Duchess of Atholl, who landed at Plymouth yesterday from the liner Queen Mary, said that there was general relief in America that immediate war was averted. But when they realised the price to be paid she formed the impression that many people thought the price too heavy, while many doubted whether peace was assured.

23 October 2010

A Penny Earned

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1935:



Agreement was reached yesterday by the Conciliation Board investigating the threat of strike action being taken by furniture manufacturing employees engaged on a subcontract for the Cunard-White Star liner Queen Mary, now fitting out in Messrs John Brown and Co.'s basin, Clydebank.

The claim made by the men and sustained yesterday by the board was that, according to the national agreement, they should be receiving Glasgow rates for their work, which is a penny more per hour than they received from the Beith firm by whom they were employed.

The increase of a penny in the men's wage rates will come into operation immediately.

22 October 2010

Maybe Another Time

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1934:




The Maiden voyage of the Queen Mary--the gigantic Cunard-White Star liner--will be to South Africa if a suggestion made by the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mr. D. Penry Roberts, is adopted.

He wants the Queen Mary to bring visitors from Great Britain to the Johannesburg Jubilee and Empire Exhibition, which will be held in 1936.

"We are to have the first Empire exhibition ever held in Africa. it is my earnest hope that arrangements can be made for the liner to come out on her maiden voyage, as it is confidently expected that thousands of tourists from Great Britain and other parts of the world will visit South Africa." - Reuter.

21 October 2010

From the article, "Wider and Deeper Clyde" in The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1936:



Many permanent improvements in the navigable channel of the Clyde were carried out in order to facilitate the launching of the Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary, and a comprehensive account of the river work entailed was given last night by Mr. A. C. Gardner, engineer to the Clyde Navigation Trust, in a paper read in Glasgow at a meeting of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland.

Mr. Gardner's subject was "River Work for the Queen Mary," and he described in detail the various ancillary works rendered necessary by the general scheme of river improvement for the Queen Mary, and he stated that they were carried out in the following order:--

(1) The widening of the river opposite to Messrs John Brown and Co.'s shipyard and at the entrance to the river Cart;
(2) The deep dredging across the river on the line of the launch;
(3) The deepening of the fitting-out basin for the reception of the ship after the launch;
(4) The placing of the protective barrage and boom at the stern of the ship while fitting out; and
(5) The widening of the river at Dalmuir.

Outlining the work in connection with the protective barrage placed round the stern of the vessel while she was being fitted out, Mr. Gardner stated that the scheme was devised in conjunction with the builders, and ultimately took the form of a number of steel frames or towers with broad concrete bases placed side by side in three continuous lines, from which were suspended overlapping steel plates of the full height of the towers,and extending as a continuous screen around the stern of the ship.

Before the launch of the vessel the whole of the area at the entrance to the basin on which the towers would rest had been carefully dredged to as uniform a level as possible. After the launch, and when the vessel had been moored in the fitting-out berth, heavy sand was deposited from hoppers where necessary...as the time for her departure approached the need for a close and accurate survey of the whole of the river channel became increasingly important. Areas where the presence of loose boulders was suspected had to be swept and afterwards examined by diving bell...Mr. Gardner stated that from first to last nearly 5,000,000 tons of material were removed from the river and deposited at sea as the result of various operations connected with the Queen Mary alone.

20 October 2010

Super Model

From The Southeast Missourian on this day in 1936:

Queen Mary Model On Exhibit

A 4 1/2-foot illuminated model of the Queen Mary steamship will be at the travel booth in the basement of Academic Hall during the Southeast Missouri Teachers Meeting, where people may go for information in regard to trips all over the world. It is hoped that a model of the Normandie will be available also.

Representatives of the Canadian Pacific and United States Lines, will be on hand to discuss tours to Alaska, and various winter tours of all kinds.

A representative of the American Express Company will be on hand to answer questions and explain details of DeLuxe tours to all parts of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Questions and requests for literature about the various tours entail no obligation.

Anyone wishing a personal interview with any of these men may arrange for it by calling Mrs. B. C. Hardesty, telephone 858J. --Adv.

19 October 2010

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1961:

Future Traffic

The abandonment of the Q 3, on which Cunard have been working hard this year and on which the major shipbuilding firms have spent months of intensive effort, seems too drastic a decision to be taken as a result of one bad year on the Atlantic. It may be that more time is now required to reach a surer assessment of the future of passenger liner traffic.

If the Queen Mary is not replaced in 1965, when she is due to be withdrawn and scrapped, the weekly service between Southampton and New York, maintained by her and the Queen Elizabeth, would have to be abandoned. The alternative of a smaller, slower and less expensive ship would mean a major change in Cunard policy.

A small ship would leave this hitherto valuable dollar-earning field to the 70,000-ton French liner France, which is to come into service next year. Only the Queen liners and the 52,500-ton liner United States will match her for speed.

18 October 2010


From The New York Times on this day in 1931:


Whole Section of British Road Is Commandeered to Transport Stern Frame for Cunarder.

An entire section of a British railroad was commandeered recently to help convey the stern frame of the new 73,000-ton Cunard liner from the factory at Darlington, England, to the River Clyde, near Glasgow. Reports to the New York office of the company tell of the shipment of the frame in dismounted form in eight enormous castings.

A special train and a completely cleared track were used to move the castings to Middlesbrough at the mouth of the river Tees, where they were loaded aboard a steamer for the final leg of their journey to the Clyde. An entire week was taken for the task of dismantling the castings and hoisting them on special trucks for the railway journey. Because of the abnormal dimensions and overhang of the castings, it was necessary to keep clear the entire railway line from Darlington to Middlesbrough.

Details of the task of building the ship, known only as No. 534, which reached the New York offices of the company, have aroused the interest of shipping circles. Secrecy surrounds many features of the ship because of the present rivalry of France, Italy and the United States in the field of large ship construction. Charges already have been made that some features of the ships under construction have been copied by rivals.

17 October 2010

A Chocolate Soda without Chocolate

From an article by Billy Rose in the St. Petersburg Times on this day in 1946:

The other day the Cunard-White Star Line admitted that one of the three smokestacks on the Queen Mary is a phony. Who asked them? I've always believed the number of smokestacks was a measure of the power of a ship. Now, a marine architect named George Sharp says the biggest ship needs only a dinky little pipe. A pox on him! To me a stackless ocean liner is like a chocolate soda without chocolate.

16 October 2010

Fulfilling Her Mission

From an article entitled "A Stewards Life" in The Age on this day in 1937:
He [Mr. Dave Marlow] shipped as a steward on the mammoth liner Queen Mary, but he found the work so hard that he made only one voyage in her, across the Atlantic to New York and back to Southampton. "For sheer non-stop labor it was the hardest job I have ever known," he writes. "Stop for a single minute, and some official would find you something to do. Serving lunch was a mad rush. By the time it was over I was soaked through with sweat. Down to my bunk, change, and up again to help wash the huge pile of dirty silver. It took twenty of us well over an hour to do this. The amount of plates, glass, silver and crockery used for one meal was almost incredible. Away, and change again to carry baggage on board, as we were nearing Cherbourg. Those of us not carrying baggage were detailed to serve tea in the lounges or on deck. A short break, and dinner was upon us. Two hours of running the length of the diningroom to the kitchen, scrambling for plates, glasses, &c, until my stiff collar was limp, my clean shirt once more wet through."

"We got our own meals after the passengers had finished," he continues. "We ate standing up in the pantry, for there was no time to go below to the messroom. The food was good, and I certainly needed something substantial to fortify myself against the strain. I had noticed that most of the stewards looked very tired-eyed and weary--now I knew why. Silver again. After this, some of us were detailed to serving drinks in the various lounges and smokingrooms. In the small hours of the morning I at last finished, and sought my bunk. It was situated aft, over the propellers, and two decks down. I was one of 25 in the stewards' 'Glory Hole.' A table and two short stools completed its furnishing, and the contrast between the lavishly decorated passengers' quarters was very striking. We were now at full speed and the vibration was terrific. Compared to the movement amidships it was like another world. I jumped up on my bunk, and, taking off my shoes, placed them on the cross-beam, a time-honored place in a ship for these articles. Not in this one! A few seconds, and the vibrations shook them loose and they fell on my head. Wearily I undressed and crawled between the sheets. Tired as I was, the noise and the vibration prevented me from sleeping. The back of a motor cycle going at full speed over a rough road was a peaceful perch compared to my bunk. I lay awake, mentally computing my hours of labor on the first day, and found them to be eighteen. And workers ashore grumble at a 44-hour week. The Queen Mary was built to make work, and she certainly does fulfill her mission!

15 October 2010


From the Eugene Register on this day in 1940:

Queen Mary In Mediterranean

ROME, Oct. 15. -(AP)-It was unofficially reported here today the British liner Queen Mary which left New York City several months ago, presumably enroute to Australia, has been convoyed through the Mediterranean with 1,500* British soldiers aboard. The liner Mauretania was also reported in the convoy as a troop transport.

*The correct number may have been 15,000 as news sources printed both figures.

13 October 2010

12 October 2010

From The Age on this day in 1946:


Record Number

The record number of 1075 stowaways tried to enter the United States between July 1, 1945, and August 30, 1946.

The illegal immigrants came from every country, with Britain, France, Italy and Spain leading. Five per cent of the arrivals were women.

The law holds that shipping companies are responsible for the return of stowaways, so that the companies now put posters on docks, piers and in the crews' quarters warning that stowaways will be prosecuted.

Ten who were found recently on the liner Queen Mary, in one trip spent a day in gaol at New York, and were sentenced to 30 days' imprisonment in England.

Sympathetic members of the crew tried to smuggle some women and children ashore. Returning servicemen brought their fiancees and "orphan" mascots.

11 October 2010

No Distress to Ears...But May Cause Mild Heart Attack

From The Owosso Argus-Press on this day in 1937:
Although the giant whistles of the Queen Mary, English liner, can be heard five miles away, they are pitched so low that they cause no distress to the ears of passengers.

10 October 2010

Gray Ghost Update

From the Reading Eagle on this day in 1943:

The 'Queen'

At war's beginning the great new British liner Queen Mary donned battle paint, slipped quietly to sea as the biggest troopship target a U-boat commander could expect to find.

Here are some stories now released about the 81,235-ton "Queen":

Early in the summer of 1942 she carried half a division of troops with all their equipment from England to Suez--a 12,000-mile dash that virtually saved the British at El Alamein, helped turn the tide in North Africa.

She hauled "tens of thousands" of American troops to fighting fronts all over the world in the desperate days after Pearl Harbor. A German plot to sink her with 10,000 U. S. men aboard was foiled in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

On one voyage she sped through a pack of some 25 submarines so fast that the Germans could not torpedo her.

Late in 1942, with a full load of Americans aboard, the great liner was struck in mid-Atlantic by a gigantic wave. She heeled over until her upper decks were awash, miraculously recovered--sped on.

09 October 2010

A Bonus

From an article in The Spokesman-Review on this day in 1936:

Incidentally, Sam Goldwyn is so pleased with "Dodsworth" he is giving Mr. [William] Wyler a bonus in the shape of a trip to England on the Queen Mary, and, just to make sure he will have a good rest, has commanded him to find a potential male star with Clark Gable's head, Gary Cooper's mouth, Leslie Howard's hands, Frank Shields' nose, Charles Boyer's eyes, Herbert Marshall's voice, Robert Taylor's personality, Joel McCrea's physique, and Edward Arnold's vitality!

08 October 2010


From The Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1943:

Axis Spy 30-Year Term

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 8 (UP) - Niels Christiensen, the Axis spy who radioed German submarines the date of the departure of the liner Queen Mary when she left Rio last March with about 10,000 men aboard, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison by the National Security Tribunal.

Fourteen other defendants were sentenced to lesser terms.

06 October 2010


From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on this day in 1935:

Air Conditioning For Big Steamer

The "Queen Mary" will manufacture her own weather as she crosses the Atlantic, it is revealed by the Cunard White Star Line, according to word received by the Francke Travel bureau of Sarasota. The "weather" which will be manufactured, however, will be below decks in the passenger accommodations.

While air-conditioning has already been applied to one room in each of several ships, the system which is being installed in the "Queen Mary" will be the first in which the principle will be more generally applied. Passengers will be able to control personally the temperature of their staterooms by means of the system which provides separate supplies of warm and cool fresh air to each room.

The air in dining rooms and lounges will be kept constantly at any desired degree of heat or coolness, dryness or humidity, according to weather conditions outside. It will be one of the most elaborate air-conditioning systems in use anywhere.

The passengers will be able to dine, to lounge, to dance and to sleep in the sparkling air and an atmosphere as clean and as bracing as that of the Adirondack mountains.

05 October 2010

Unexpected Departure

Hector McNeil with his wife and son in 1950 at the launch of the refrigeration ship, Adelaide Star, from John Brown's shipyard in Clydebank.

On this day in 1955, Hector McNeil, Great Britain's Minister of State from 1946 to 1950 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 1950 to 1951, was taken from the Queen Mary and rushed to a New York hospital after suffering a stroke aboard the ship. He died six days later at the age of 48. Mr. McNeil had recently won re-election as a member of parliament for Greenock.

The Age
Getty Images

04 October 2010

Comfort In All Classes

From an advertisement in The Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1936:



* for as little as $167.50 Round Trip (ocean passage)

in as few as 12 days

You've read about, thought about, dreamed about a trip in the Queen Mary. . .admired her vast size and beauty. . .envied the round of pleasures that goes on aboard her every hour of the sunny days and flood-lit nights. Well, make that dream come true. . .now! Forget summer's hectic commuting. . .or those June reservations that you couldn't get. . .or that vacation that missed fire. Take 12 days or three weeks or 27 days and let yourself go. . .indulge yourself! You'll enjoy the Queen Mary at her best. . .and see Europe at its most brilliant season. There, too, the old-world capitals are livelier. . .Londoners and Parisians are back from beach and mountains. . .the gayest night-clubs have re-opened and Mayfair and Montmarte are ablaze with light and color!

Let your own budget decide the question of cost! Even as the Queen Mary's speed makes the trip possible in the time you would take for an ordinary vacation 12 days, including two days in London or Paris. . .so the ultra-modern comfort she offers in all classes gives you the whole wide price range to choose from. You've heard enough about the splendor of Queen Mary Cabin Class. . .naturally if you want the very most out of your time off, that's the way you will go. But truly an amazing feature of this superliner is the comfort and beauty of her lower-priced accommodations. Tourist Class has its own resplendent swimming pool. . .private bath with some rooms. . .private toilets with almost all of its staterooms. . .lavish and yet pleasantly informal luxury throughout its spacious lounges. And there's still more to surprise you. . .

*THE NEW THIRD CLASS OF THE QUEEN MARY is truly a revelation! At the all-season, round-trip rate of $167.50, it answers the new, young and thoroughly American urge to be both smart and thrifty. You'll always find congenial companions and ample diversions in the Queen Mary's Third Class Garden Lounge, the Smoking Room, the Cocktail Bar. The charming Children's Playroom attests the fact that this is the new economy way to Europe for all the family. Go Cabin if you can, of course. But if money matters, make your dreams come true in Tourist or Third Class!

Make the dream last, too, as long as you can. The 12-day round trip gives you two days in Paris or London. . .but once you're abroad at this glorious time of year, you'll want to go farther. You'll want to see the Alps when autumn has painted them gold and red. . .to visit the Rhineland in vintage time. . .to enjoy Brussels and old Amsterdam when the sun is mild and shops and streets are picturesquely thronged. With a little more time you can do all this. . .study the plans outlined on this page and send in the coupon!

03 October 2010

False Alarm

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle on this day in 1938:


NEW YORK, Oct. 3. (AP) - Facilities of the liner Queen Mary were strained to accommodate the 2112 passengers the vessel landed today, the largest list she ever had carried.

Twenty-four hours before she sailed from England several hundred Americans tried to obtain accommodations to get away from what then looked like war. The Queen Mary was able to carry only 275 of them and cots were set up in the drawing room, the gymnasium and in the broadcasting room to accommodate the extra passengers.

Ship's officers said passengers were jubilant Thursday night when it was announced the four-power pact had been signed at Munich. They said more than 30 persons arranged for a return booking immediately.

02 October 2010

Muddied Up

From the column "New York Day By Day" by Charles B. Driscoll in The Spartanburg Herald on this day in 1939:

The Queen Mary and Aquitania were side by side at their Hudson river piers the other day, looking forlorn and unattractive in their new coats of muddy gray. The shipping folk do not seem to be sure just what color renders ships nearly invisible at sea. There is so much difference in shades. For some reason, none of the lines has yet resorted to the grotesque camouflage so common the First World War.

The Normandie stands idle, her coat changed, her crew departed for service at home. Piers swarm with policemen and guards, in and out of uniform.

01 October 2010

30 September 2010

In Denial

Two related items from The New York Times on this day in 1933:


New One Like the Washington Is Being Considered, Says P. V. G. Mitchell in London

Wireless to The New York Times.

LONDON - P. V. G. Mitchell, vice president of the International Mercantile Marine, interviewed before sailing on the liner Manhattan for New York today, said big ships were "unsound and uneconomic," his views conflicting with those recently expressed here urging resumption of work on the giant Cunarder [534].

Mr. Mitchell indicated the possibility that construction of another vessel of the Manhattan and Washington type would soon be ordered. He said while the Leviathan was being kept in condition, an important increase in traffic would be needed to justify her recommissioning.

The big ship, he added, was of the type developed in day of prosperity and when the tide of emigrant travel was strong.

"Cabin liners have carried gratifying numbers, and we have every reason to feel that we have produced a type of ship that appeals very strongly to the American traveler," he added.


Denies He Is Here to See Franklin on Shipping Merger.

Lord Weir, head of the British ship engineering firm of G. & J. Weir, Ltd., arrived yesterday on the Cunarder Berengaria upon his annual business visit to the United States. He was accompanied by his brother, Air Commodore James G. Weir.

Lord Weir said he had been pestered all during the voyage by radio messages that followed a published report that he was coming here upon a mysterious mission to see P. A. S. Franklin, president of the I. M. M., about the amalgamation of the White Star and Cunard Lines.

"There was no foundation for this report," Lord Weir said. "My mission here is entirely private."

Asked whether he thought the Cunarder 534 would ever be completed, he replied that he felt confident she would.

29 September 2010

Called Back To The Vaterland

From the item "400 Passengers Stranded" in The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1938:

Southampton, England - (AP) - The recall of the North German Lloyd liner Europa to Germany just before her scheduled departure stranded 400 passengers here [yesterday], most of them Americans.

The Europa's passengers made unsuccessful efforts to book passage in the Queen Mary, which sailed...with the biggest passenger list in her history. To accommodate her 2,200 passengers, public rooms in the cabin class were converted into dormitories.

It was announced here that ships of the Hamburg America Line due here from New York...had been ordered to proceed directly to Germany and omit their Southampton call. The Hamburg America Line also cancelled the sailing of the liner Orinoco, due here Saturday en route to Mexico.

26 September 2010

Not Entertained

From the article "Talks Drafted By Roosevelt" in The Miami News on this day in 1936:
Hyde Park, N. Y. -President Roosevelt tonight faced a busy weekend...The executive assembled...data for his talks in a series of conferences today with persons sympathetic to his program at the summer White House.

[New York Enquirer publisher William] Griffin acquainted the president with the observations of a recent trip to Europe and revealed he asked French officials to turn over the Normandie to the United States in part payment of the war debt. A similar request was made in England with the liner Queen Mary to be given this country as part payment in kind.

"Naturally," Griffin observed, "they were not entertained."

25 September 2010

Heroine On Board

On this day in 1947, Mrs. Michele Pernet Bally, known as "The Terrorist" of the French underground, was a day away from arriving in New York with her husband aboard the Queen Mary. During World War II, Mrs. Bally made 17 parachute jumps into German occupied territory for the FFI. She was captured twice, arrested and the second time condemned to death before her rescue by French Resistance guerilla fighters, the Maquis.

The Miami News

24 September 2010


From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1934:


On Wednesday next, in the presence of Their Majesties, King George and Queen Mary, the gigantic hull of what heretofore has been known and widely discussed as "Cunarder 534" will be launched into the waters of the Clyde, at Glasgow. It will be an epoch-making event, and one on which the eyes of the whole world will be turned. Only when the ship begins to move down the slipways will her name be announced officially. The Queen will perform the "christening" ceremony. After the launching, and during the next eighteen months, one hundred thousand workmen will play their part in converting the empty shell into the perfect liner. She will then be the largest and finest ship afloat. The massive hull with a sloping stem, cruiser stern and three large funnels suitably raked, power and speed--symbols of modern transport. The hull structure provides for twelve decks from the sun deck downwards, and one of the promenade decks will be seven hundred and fifty feet in length, which is longer than the over-all length of most transatlantic vessels of today. In addition to all the generous accommodation that the new ship will afford, there will be two acres of deck for walking and games. Passengers will be able to drive to the vessel, park their cars in a large garage on board and drive them off again on this side of the Atlantic. On the top deck will be ample space for aeroplanes. In a sentence, the "534" will be twenty-three and a half times greater in length than the first Cunarder, the Comet, built in 1812, and her funnels will be so wide in diameter that this great grandmother of passenger steamers would have had room to sail through them and even turn.

Ships built on the Clyde whose launching stirred the nautical world, and which still rank as world record-holders, include the Canadian Pacific steamships Empress of Canada and Empress of Britain, but their dimensions are exceeded by those of the Cunarder soon to be released from the stocks, and now awaiting her name from Queen Mary. So monstrous are the proportions of this giant boat that many new problems have had to be overcome in connection with the launching operation. Her length necessitated the removal of five and a half acres of land from the mouth of the River Cart, opposite the slipway; her depth required a channel to be cut in the bed of the river to allow safe passage for the keel; and as a wave "at least eight feet high" is expected to sweep up the Clyde when the new Cunarder takes the water at the launch, and is likely to sweep over the public right of way on Clydeside, the municipal authorities have taken special precautions to safeguard the public.

The Clyde-built ship has for many years been accepted by the world as bearing the hall-mark of perfection. "Cunarder 534" promises to carry the status of the Clyde shipbuilder to step higher and spread wider the fame of Glasgow, whilst leaving still unanswered a question that has often been raised, whether the Clyde made Glasgow, or did Glasgow make the Clyde? In any event, the building of this great liner, over and above what it represents as an accumulation of energy and science, is significant as an outward and visible sign of economic rehabilitation in the United Kingdom.

23 September 2010

Sign Of The Times

From the column "From Today's Times" in the Ottawa Citizen on this day in 1949:
The shipping correspondent quotes examples of effects of the 43 percent increases in sterling fares on Atlantic shipping as a result of devaluation. The first class minimum rate on the Queen Mary rises from 91 to 130 pounds, the cabin class minimum from 56 to 80 and the tourist minimum from 41 to 59 pounds.

22 September 2010


From The Evening Independent on this day in 1942:

Italian Nobleman Admits Espionage To Police in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 22--AP--Police announced that the Italian Count Edmondo di Robilant had been arrested and had confessed that he provided information for transmission to Rome concerning the passage through Rio some time ago of the British transport Queen Mary.

The tall, thin Di Robilant, a high official of the Italian Latin airline, was taken into custody with several other persons, and the police said the arrests broke up a major Italian espionage ring.

An official announcement said that the count was instrumental in mounting a radio transmitter which passed secret information to Rome, and that he had provided data concerning material on ships coming from the United States for use in a big Brazilian steel mill now under construction, as well as informing on the Queen Mary.

21 September 2010


Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1937:

PROF. P. A. CHAPMAN DIES ABOARD LINER; Princeton Educator Stricken While at Birthday Party for Son on Queen Mary

Percy A. Chapman, Associate Professor of Modern Lauguages at Princeton University since 1913, died Sunday midnight of a heart attack on board the liner Queen Mary, which arrived here yesterday.

20 September 2010

In The Soup

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1938:



NEW YORK, Monday.

The Queen Mary and other vessels are fog-bound in New York harbour.

In a wireless message the captain of the Queen Mary said the fog was so thick that "you could not see one end of the ship from the other."

In parts of New York the fog is so bad that the traffic is affected, the city resembling London in November. - Reuter.

19 September 2010


From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1935:
The Queen Mary, the Cunard White Star superliner, has just had her third stack placed in position. Everything else about the ship is speeding along according to schedule. She is expected to make her maiden voyage early next summer.

18 September 2010

Almost Ready

From The Sydney Morning Herald in 1934:


Plans for the Launching.



LONDON, Sept. 18.
The last rivet has been driven in the hull of the giant Cunard liner, No. 534, and everything is almost ready for the launching ceremony by the Queen on September 26, when it is expected, a crowd of 250,000 will assemble in the vicinity to see the vessel take the water.

The work on the ship has been completed 10 days before schedule, and the great yards are now practically silent, except for the hammering by artisans who are erecting the stands for the spectators.

The secret name to be bestowed on the wonder liner is closely kept, although there will be no surprise if Britannia is chosen, a name that would certainly arouse pride in every British heart the world over.

The King and probably other members of the Royal Family will be present when Queen Mary gives the name and her blessing to this, the largest, fastest, and most magnificent vessel ever built.

A suite of five rooms has been constructed near the plating shop for the Royal visitors, and a fine dining hall to accommodate 1000 guests has been provided.

On the arrival of their majesties, the King will be presented with an address of welcome by the chairman of the Cunard and White Star lines (Sir Percy Bates), after which the Queen will proceed with the christening and launching ceremony, her words being broadcast to the world.

Special precautions are being taken to safeguard the thousands of onlookers on the banks of the Clyde, for, when the ship enters the water, she will throw up waves which may sweep over the lower banks. Nobody will be permitted to encroach on any area that is considered dangerous. The police have been instructed to keep such places clear.

As for the liner herself, the design embraces every conceivable provision for safety, comfort and grandeur, a feature being the latest devices for preventing fire. Her 11 decks will include a promenade deck 750 feet long. The swimming pool will be the largest ever installed in a liner, and there will be a church complete with stained-glass windows.


17 September 2010

Bon Appetit

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle on this day in 1936:


Here is a new recipe for potato soup from Chef Riccoult of the S.S. Queen Mary. To make this, he says, in October Pictorial Review, fry four large slices of salt pork and bacon, finely chopped, until brown, then add two medium-sized onions, finely chopped, and fry until brown. Pour off all but about four tablespoons fat. Add three cups potatoes, diced, one teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon black pepper, two teaspoons parsley, finely chopped, one cup hot water. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender and most of the water cooked away. Add five cups milk, gradually, then beat slowly for five minutes. This makes six to eight servings.


16 September 2010

"News" Flash

From The Deseret News on this day in 1939:
BERLIN--One of the official German radio stations interrupted its musical program to report a special "news" flash...the "flash" described how seamen from the Normandie and Queen Mary in New York had engaged in fist fights on the New York waterfront...the Nazi announcer added that the fight started when the French seamen accused the English of "dragging France into the war." The truth is this. There was a fist fight between seamen but they were not from the Normandie or Queen Mary. They were sailors from two British steamers.

14 September 2010


From the Schenectady Gazette on this day in 1967:

Queen Mary Leaves Port For Last Crossing Today


LONDON (AP) - The Queen Mary sails to New York for the last time Saturday--and the Atlantic will be a little emptier without her.

The 81,000 ton three-funnelled Cunarder will be packed to capacity with 1,500 passengers, many of them Americans who flew to Britain especially to make the historic journey.

After a final round trip the 31-year-old liner will sail from Southampton around Cape Horn next month to her new home at Long Beach, Calif.

That American city bought the vessel for $3.5 million Aug. 18 and will turn her into a hotel, museum and office block.

When the Queen Mary has completed her final round trip, she will have made 1,001 Atlantic crossings and carried more than two million people, including 810,000 troops during World War II, since her maiden voyage in 1936.

Her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, will be retired and sold next year.

A 56,000-ton slim-line Cunarder, currently known as Q4, will be launched at Clydeside Wednesday, but it is still open whether the ship will be named a queen to keep up the tradition.

Betting in shipyard pubs is 5 to 1 that she will be named the Queen Victoria, and 6-1 on Queen Mother.

The Queen Mary--second biggest liner in the world after the 82,997-ton Queen Elizabeth--was withdrawn from service by Cunard because she was losing about $2 million a year to air competition.

In her prime the old ship was unbeatable. She held the blue riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing--3 days, 15 hours, 48 minutes--until she lost the title to the American liner United States in 1952. The United States took 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes, to cross on her maiden voyage.

13 September 2010

Behind The Scenes

From the article "Passengers on Modern Liners See Only Fraction of Vessel" in The Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1936:

Crossing the Atlantic in modern comfort, the present day ocean traveler little realizes that aside from the swimming pools, gymnasiums, the many public rooms and staterooms, he actually is able to explore only a fraction of a present-day liner.

To the average passenger, the promenade deck and the shopping center are considered the "Main Street" of a superliner, but to the seafarer the "Main Street" is the working alleyway, buried far below decks and rarely seen by the voyager.

The passengers are aware, too, that there is machinery aboard, but they are blissfully ignorant of the mysterious propulsive power that throbs somewhere within the liner's vitals....the vessel's enormous boilers, her powerful turbines and auxiliary machinery are known only to an initiated few.

Passengers aboard the Cunard White Star superliner Queen Mary may have counted the elevators in their respective classes--seven for cabin, two for tourist and two for third class--yet these only comprise half the elevators in the ship. The service elevators bring stewards with trays to the various decks at a speed of 200 feet a minute: two more elevators traveling at half that speed handle baggage.

Three storage room elevators bring food, water and linen supplies from decks below to the various kitchens, pantries and closets. One engineer's elevator, for terminal service only, and one engine room stores elevator handle engine room supplies and carry the engine room staff to and from their posts. Moreover, there are dumbwaiters which accommodate trays of food and drink.

Forward on A deck of the Queen Mary is located the fore hatch, for use in loading cargo. While the Queen Mary, being primarily a passenger ship, carries only about 1000 tons of cargo, this fore hatch was made extra large for use in loading and unloading autos. Her cargo derrick can accommodate all of five tons at one time. Special electric hoists and chutes are used in handling the tons of mail carried on each voyage.

In the after part of the vessel are located two engine room hatches. Only one engine hatch is constructed in ordinary liners, but the Queen Mary's propulsive equipment is so vast--extending 800 feet along the vessel's hold--that two hatches were designed to facilitate reaching any part of the machinery. These hatches also provide ventilation and serve as two vertical steel caissons into which deck plates are tightly woven, thus providing added strength and safety.

Passing over the ship's 16 great turbines, her 27 enormous boilers, her three air-cooling systems, her 50 miles of plumbing pipes, her 60,000 cubic feet of refrigerating space and her weighty steering gear--the largest ever installed in any liner--the tour is concluded with a stop in the ship's telephone exchange located aft on B deck. Here four telephone girls answer passenger calls in crisp British accents and daily transmit thousands of inter-ship and ship-to-ship messages to all parts of the world. During the maiden crossing of the Queen Mary these girls handled a record number of calls for any liner.