20 June 2010

An Array of World Famous Ships


From an article entitled "We'll Have Paris Back In A Fortnight," Anzacs Say As They Land In Britain" published in The Miami News on this day in 1940:

A NORTHEASTERN BRITISH PORT, June 20 - (AP) - Thousands of fighting Anzacs, who sailed all the way from Australia and New Zealand in great liners without seeing one German plane, have thronged into the British Isles, shouting for "a chance at Jerry."

Packed into an array of world famous ships whose names were covered with gray paint nine months ago, the volunteers and their escort gave this port the greatest spectacle of the war.

The "array of world-famous ships" which safely transported thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops...most likely included the liners Queen Mary, Mauretania, Aquitania, and the Empresses of Britain, Asia and Australia. The number of soldiers may be as high as 50,000.

All of these liners, painted in the drab gray of war time, were seen in the Sydney, Australia, harbor by passengers on the Matson liner Mariposa which arrived in Honolulu in May.

The combined passenger capacity of the liners is about 10,000 persons. At a conservative estimate troops could be carried in a ratio of at least five-to-one for ordinary passengers.

In carrying troops even the cargo holds are converted into quarters, with steel hammocks built in four and five deep tiers.

That would mean 50,000 soldiers would not tax the capacity of such a group of ships.

The voyage from Sydney to the British Isles would take about 40 days.

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