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.

12 September 2010

A Festive Good Bye

From the Kentucky New Era on this day in 1967:

Gala Farewell Voyage

2 Stowaways Slip Aboard Queen Mary

ABOARD THE QUEEN MARY (AP) - Two stowaways, a man and a woman, were discovered on the Queen Mary today as she steamed across the Atlantic toward England and retirement.

The woman, who identified herself as Angelina Romero, 25, of San Diego, Calif., presented herself to the purser at about midnight. By that time the ship was several hundred miles from New York and she could not be returned.

The other stowaway, an unidentified American man in his 20s or 30s, was found on deck this morning by a crewman who became suspicious. He was placed under lock and key by the master at arms.

Both Miss Romero and the man came aboard Friday during the gala sendoff for the Queen Mary, symbol of a bygone era of transatlantic splendor. Thousands of wellwishers mingled with the 2,500 passengers before the sailing.

The final voyage on her regular run to England was turned into a retirement party that will long be remembered.

"There won't be another ship like this one and there won't ever be another crossing like this one," said Bob Searles, a bar steward who had sailed on the Queen Mary's maiden voyage in 1936. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We're going to give her a real party."

The Queen Mary had been a festive ship for most of her 31 years and the mood was unchanged when she sailed from New York Friday on her 1,000th and last transatlantic crossing. Corks began popping hours before the Queen left her dock and champagne bottles soon littered companionways.

The tempo of the celebration quickened after the 81,000-ton ship left New York Harbor.

"We haven't planned anything special for this trip," a spokesman for the British Cunard Line said. "The passengers look great. We'll let them improvise. They'll give the old girl the kind of farewell she deserves." A symbol of a vanishing era, the Queen Mary carried more than two million persons in war and peace--more of them Americans than any other nationality. But she lost money--$2 million a year after the transatlantic jet planes arrived.

Next month she will sail around Cape Horn to Long Beach, Calif., for use as a floating hotel and museum.

11 September 2010

Oh, Happy Day

(Photo: Return of the 82nd Airborne)

From The Spokesman-Review on this day in 1945


Vets Aboard Lady Really Hang Out the Signs.

NEW YORK (AP) - The British liner Queen Mary, her sides hung with so many banners she looked like a huge floating billboard, slid out of the fog into New York harbor today, jammed with nearly 15,000 veterans of the European war.

Yells, whistles and shouts of the soldiers, mostly Kansans, Missourians and Nebraskans from President Truman's old World war I division, the 35th, heralded the lady's arrival as she ended her fifth westward crossing. The noise reached the dock long before the Queen did.

Soldiers Everywhere.

Soldiers and the largest contingent of WACs to be returned to the United States from Europe covered every inch of space on the open decks.

They hung from ladders and thrust their heads through portholes. A huge map of Europe on the starboard side had G. I.s' heads where Paris and Berlin were located.

One sign showing four happy soldiers singing and bearing the wagon wheel of the old Santa Fe trail the insignia of the 35th, read, "Oh, Happy Day."

Another, emblazoned in red, white and blue, said "Hello, America--35th Division." Still another, fastened to the deck, declared, "Dear Mom--Your Boy Has Returned," and was signed by three New Yorkers.

Returning with his troops was Maj. Gen. Paul W. Baade, commanding general of the 35th. He led his men down the gangplank and said, "If there are any better soldiers anywhere, I should like to know it."

Expert Hole-Blockers

"Every time they needed somebody to block a hole," the general said, "they threw us in. They are all good soldiers in the army, but none of them are better than mine.

"We got closer to Berlin (42 miles) than any other American troops."

The division suffered 15,800 casualties, he said, adding that of its original strength of 13,000 men only 15 percent remain.

Although the men were ordered home for redeployment to the Pacific, Gen. Baade said he did not think they would be sent. He said the division would be reassembled at Camp Breckenridge after the men had 30-day furloughs.

Also aboard were a number of British officials, including Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Somerville, head of the British military mission to Washington and Gen. Sir Hastings Ismay, personal military advisor to Prime Minister Atlee.

The Queen was the largest of 15 ships docking today in New York, Boson and Newport News, Va., with a total of more than 32,000 troops.

10 September 2010

No One Danced

From the article, "Sarasota Woman Cancelled Sailing On Lost Athenia" in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on this day in 1939:

Echoes of the European war were heard in Sarasota this weekend when Mrs. Percy Robinson returned to her home...after fate had caused cancellation of her accommodations aboard the ill-fated Athenia and brought her safely home on the Queen Mary, jestingly referred to by passengers as the Mystery Ship.

As the war scare increased, she feared that the ill-fated ship might not sail and attempted to secure passage on the Queen Mary.

"When the shipping authorities told me it wasn't possible, I didn't let it stop me," she smiled. "I simply camped in the office until I got what I wanted, although some 400 were ahead of me. Strangely, I returned with three Jewish women, two from Danzig and one from Scotland as cabin-mates. The two Danzigers were, of course, fleeing. They were most interesting, but were terribly sad throughout the voyage and I tried to cheer them up a bit.

"...before we sailed, every light on the Queen Mary was turned on and the ship inspected by the Admiralty. All portholes were blacked out and heavy blankets hung over doors. it wasn't possible for them to see the ship in the port, so well was all light concealed."

Mrs. Robinson didn't know until she reached New York that the Athenia had been torpedoed. "We had news flashes every five minutes throughout the voyage, but not a word about a sea disaster was revealed. Several times the broadcasts stopped suddenly, and I suppose that was when news of the Athenia or some other torpedoed vessel was been [sic] given. We would have been frantic had we heard that.

"We didn't know that the warfare had reached the sea, but we thought something was wrong when we discovered the Queen Mary wasn't following its regular course. We first realized this when we got so far north that we had to put on heavy overcoats. Then we discovered that the sun was first on one side of us and then another, indicating a zig-zag course. Even with this we weren't so worried, though, because we didn't really realize the danger.

"The most unusual thing about the whole voyage though, was the fact that there was virtually no life among the 4,000 passengers. You know, there is usually a gala night immediately after departure, about midway and at the end, but not so on this trip. No one on the boat danced.

"With my husband here, not knowing even which ship I was on, I tried franticaly [sic] to let him know of my departure, but failed. Like countless others, I went to the radio room, but found it tightly locked. No word could be sent out for fear of revealing our location."

Mrs. Robinson said there were a number of Germans aboard the Queen Mary. "At least a couple of them shouted 'Heil Hitler' several times, but the other Americans on the boat made them stop it. How? They simply told them we wouldn't stand for it, and that was that."

Mr. and Mrs. Robinson came to Florida two years ago from England.

09 September 2010

We'll Blast His Blinkin' Skiffs

From the St. Petersburg Times on this day in 1939:

British Seamen Would Rather Talk About Baseball Than War in Europe

NEW YORK.-(AP)-British seamen of the Queen Mary are singularly unworried over the war with Germany. In fact, they'd rather talk about baseball than bombs.

Taverns along the waterfront did a heavy over-the-bar business yesterday as members of the crew prepared to ship home as passengers aboard the liner Georgic. A skeleton crew remained with the Queen Mary which was receiving a gray camouflage.

War talk was practically nil. British soccer standings got a big play. Inevitably the talk veered around to America's baseball and barkeeps expanded nobly on the Yankees' chances in the World Series. One flaming-haired Welshman wanted to know more about "this Di Maggio fellow."


Pinned down to actual discussion about the war, crew members presented a solid front of mingled fatalism and quiet confidence.

Steward David Williams said: "It's a nasty situation but it can't be helped. I'm going home to do my bit just as I did in 1914."

Williams, like most of hte others, has a family. Before he left England it was arranged what they were to do if war came. His wife will be an ambulance driver. She's already on the list. His son, 14, is a Boy Scout and he's standing by for duty of any kind.

"There," said Williams, "is a lad with spirit. He's full of it."

"It's just a job we've got to do," said First Class Steward Henry Griffith. "It's been a long time comin' and now it's here and we'll have to clean up the bloomin' mess. But it'll be done, never fear.

"I served in the air corps in the last one and I'll join up again in a minute to stop this maniac, Hitler."

One grizzled old fireman remarked:

"It had to come by and by and it might as well be now as then. It's good to know where you stand."

Edward Saunders, a waiter, said the British people had no quarrel with the Germans, but with Hitler and his Naziism.


"He's got to be stopped and we're the lads to do it," he said. "It might take a month, it might take a year, or it might take four years, but we'll lick the tar out of him. We'll blast his blinkin' skiffs right out of the sea."

Sam Roberts, another steward, said the British people were happy war was declared. The constant crises had made the people jittery, he said.

"We were glad that at last the time had come to take this bloody chap in hands," he said.

The crew of the French liner Normandie, which is also docked here, was more reticent.

Stewards stopped chattering among themselves and one of them said:

"The war. No, it is forbidden for us to say anything."

But one cook grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

"If it must be, it must be," he said. "We can't live forever. Be happy while you can. Viola! [sic] Why worry?"

08 September 2010

07 September 2010

You Won't See Me

From The Rock Hill Herald on this day in 1939:

Liner Queen Mary Is Camouflaged For Reported Dash Home

New York, Sept. 7. (AP) - A swarm of workmen daubed gray camouflage paint over red and black stacks of the British liner Queen Mary today giving rise to a belief she is being readied for a dash through the submarine infested Atlantic for a home port.

Officials of the Cunard White Star Lines said the world's largest ship was not going to sail. They said however the ship now is in command of the admiralty. They said they did not know what it planned.

Still tied up to her dock here is the French line's Normandie, the world's fastest ship.

Expected in New York today was the French liner Ile de France carrying more than 1,000 passengers.

06 September 2010

The Master

From The Sunday Morning Star on this day in 1936:

Sea Queen's Captain.

If the Britten family of Yorkshire, England, had had its way, son Edgar might now be a captain of industry. It would be nothing but a landlubber captaincy, however.

But the elder Brittens didn't have their way. At 18, Edgar ran away to sea. Now he is a real captain. The big figure of Sir Edgar Britten strides the bridge of England's pride and joy, the Queen Mary. He is the master.

At 62, Sir Edgar can recall voyages on most of the seven seas. Like most veteran mariners, he has had his share of adventure and danger. As a matter of fact, he was steeped in risk from the outset. His maritime life began with an apprentice's job aboard the barque, Jessie Osborne, trading between England and the west coast of South America.

There wasn't a Panama Canal in those days. From England, the ship made its way down the west coast of Africa and struck out across the South Atlantic.

But the hazards were all part of a seaman's life and that was the life Edgar Britten wanted. Doggedly he stuck to his tasks. His spare time was devoted to study. When he joined the Cunard Line in 1901, he had his master's certificate.

The outbreak of World War found him master of the Phrygia, engaged in Mediterranean service. Before that he had served aboard the Lusitania whose name, two years later, was seared into the memory of millions as a German torpedo sank it.

During the war occurred Capt. Britten's most nerve-wracking voyage. He had to take a cargo to the Russian port of Archangel, on the White Sea. This meant steaming deep inside the Arctic Circle. It was late in the year and the ship, the Lycia, barely made port before the ice closed in.

Capt. Britten was trapped. For five months the ship was ice-locked. When it did get out, it had to push through ice at the rate of about five miles a day until the open sea was reached.

Since those days, the strapping skipper has issued orders aboard most of the prize ships of the Cunard Line. In 1931 he reached the pinnacle of Cunard posts-the mastership of the Berengaria, then the flagship of the line.

Three years ago he was knighted. Since the Cunard and White Star lines merged in 1934, Sir Edgar has held another title. He is Commodore of the line's fleet.

05 September 2010

Actors On Board

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1946:


Margaret Sullivan, Joseph Cotten and Frances Tannehill will sail for England on the Queen Mary September 5 to do "The Voice of the Turtle" in London, where it opens October 1.

04 September 2010


From the Kentucky New Era on this day in 1939:

New York, Sept. 4.-(AP)-The $25,000,000 British liner Queen Mary reached New York safely today with a record list of 2,331 passengers after a swift voyage through North Atlantic waters made perilous by prowling sea raiders.

The giant ship was at sea when war was declared.

On board were J. P. Morgan and hundreds of other American war refugees, happy to escape the fate of their fellow countrymen on the British ship Athenia, torpedoed and sunk off Scotland.

Passengers, among them Percival Wilde, playwright, of Sharon, Conn. said the Queen Mary avoided the regular trans-Atlantic steamship lanes, running about 400 miles north and following a zig-zag course after leaving Cherbourg. The best day's run, Wilde said, was 711 miles.

Stores in the Queen Mary's hold were 810 boxes of gold, valued at $44,550,000.

03 September 2010

02 September 2010

Mini Mary

On this day in 1935 from British Pathe:


01 September 2010

Still A Record Breaker

From British Pathe on this day in 1966: