28 January 2011

Blighty, Can You Spare a Dime?

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

The New York Times reported on January 27, 1932 that Cunard was seeking a loan from the British government to continue its work on 534--the future Queen Mary.

Work on the giant Cunard liner, 534, depends mainly upon, whether the Government will extend to the company loan facilities similar to those under which the Lusitania and Mauretania were built before the war, it is apparent from a statement by the directors issued tonight.

From the Miami News on January 24, 1946:

The United States has offered Britain the use of 11 Liberty ships as a substitute for the arrangement under which American troops are ferried home aboard the Queen Mary at a tentative charge of $100 each.

Government officials said the offer has not yet been accepted.

Presumably, the British are weighing the need for troop carriers for their own Tommies and Colonials against that of reaching a settlement which would supplement their dollar credit in this country.

Since the end of lend-lease Sept. 2, the Queen Mary has brought home 84,804 American troops.

Together [with the Queen Elizabeth]--unless the present charge is reduced or the American offer of the Liberty ships is accepted--the total charge to this country would be $11,419,600 as of now.

While lend-lease still was in effect the British bore the cost of transporting GIs abroad the two "Queens" as part of the reverse lend-lease.

Technically, a fee of 20 pounds, or roughly $100, was assessed against this government for each man. This, however, was wiped out at the time of the final lend-lease settlement and did not involve any cash changing hands.

When lend-lease ended, the same charge was retained. But government officials said today this, too, is subject to revision when the job of bringing home the troops has been completed.

As compared with the tentative charge, the price of a one-way, third-class, transatlantic passage aboard one of the "Queens" before the war was approximately $86. Third class accommodations then, however, would be regarded as luxurious in comparison with the tier-on-tier arrangement now in effect.

From the video archive of British Pathe on January 29, 1953:

Mr. Churchill Arrives Back in the United Kingdom

The Toledo Blade reported on January 28, 1966 that faulty wiring in an electric motor aboard the Queen Mary caused a fire and sent fumes throughout the liner. She had just emerged from dry dock after her annual overhaul. No passengers were aboard and no crew were injured.


21 January 2011

Asta's On Board Adventure

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

From the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on January 21, 1939:
Asta, the Thin Man's dog, who is back in Hollywood after making a picture in England, is the first passenger over to upset the decorum of the Queen Mary. En route home he escaped from his exercise yard and the ship was searched late at night for an hour before Asta was found curled up asleep in a deck chair.

The Edmonton Journal reported January 20, 1940, on the cost of keeping the Queen Mary in New York after the outbreak of war in 1939. Rent paid by Cunard White Star amounted to 25,000 GBP a year for the ship with her skeleton crew of a 100 at pier 90. The line refused to discuss specifics, but the paper learned the French Line paid 1,000 GBP a month for security for the Normandie, the Queen Mary's neighbor at pier 91. Other expenses included food for the crew and fuel for heating and lighting.

The Glasgow Herald on January 22, 1951, recounted the story of an American woman who lost her camera on a bus at Turnham Green but arrived in her cabin aboard the Queen Mary to find a note informing her it had been found by the bus conductor and would be returned to her. Moved by the gentleman's honesty, she attempted to express her gratitude to Clement Atlee, a fellow passenger on the Queen Mary. Accustomed to living in proximity to a national leader--her neighbor in the States was President Harry Truman--she was surprised to find she could not gain access to the British prime minister. The paper called it "...nearly a fine climax, almost, you might say, a conjunction of Prime Minister, President, tourist, conductor all in one symbolic group, with "Gratitude, Friendship, Honesty" on a scroll round about."

The Evening Times reported January 21, 1963, that Alexander Fasting, retired former captain of the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, was on his way around the world aboard the cargo steamer Port Sydney. He had previously made world cruises while assigned to the Franconia and Caronia before retiring from Cunard in 1961. According to the paper, Captain Fasting believed the days of the giant liners were over.

Photo of Clement Attlee on board a tug in 1957 taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine

14 January 2011

Queen Of The Seas

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

The Montreal Gazette reported January 15, 1936, that Shell Oil Company had delivered its initial load of oil to the Queen Mary:
The oil will be used in the turbo-generators employed in connection with the ship's main propelling machinery, and also for those which provide electricity for lights, steering engines, elevators, etc. The generators are powerful enough to supply electricity for a city of 150,000 inhabitants.

On January 12, 1946, The Milwaukee Journal reported the gales sweeping Britain had resulted in the loss of an ammunition ship and a delay in the arrival of the troop ship Queen Mary:
The Queen Mary, after standing off shore over night, finally made port at Southampton. The ship's 312 civilian passengers included Roberto Cordova, Mexican delegate to the United Nations assembly, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish agency for Palestine.
On January 9, 1950, British Pathe released video about the Cunard Queens:


On January 11, 1960, The Glasgow Herald reported the Cunard Line had announced its ships had carried the largest number of seagoing passengers across the Atlantic in 1959:

The Cunard Line...as in previous years...have carried 228,849, or 26 per cent. of the combined total of passengers carried by all North Atlantic and Mediterranean steamship lines. The liners Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary carried 118,000 passengers--17 per cent. of the total passengers transported across the North Atlantic.
The Caronia, Mauretania, and Britannic carried 8,000 passengers on cruises from New York.

07 January 2011

Winston On Board

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

The Glasgow Herald reported this week in 1937 on the overhaul of the Queen Mary:
One of the most interesting phases of the reconditioning...now in progress at Southampton is the installation of smoke washers in each of the liner's three funnels. The tendency of little black spots of soot to fall from the funnels onto the after part is common to all ships whatever size, but it is hoped that by these smoke washers these will be obviated on the Queen Mary.
On January 2, 1940, The Windsor Daily Star offered commentary on the newly camouflaged Queen Mary:
The Normandie and Queen Mary have been lying at adjoining piers in New York harbor since the war ended ordinary navigation. The Normandie is still in her usual black with three towering red and black funnels. The Queen Mary is a dull grey, her name being almost obliterated by the paint...Looking at the two ships the Normandie seems so much bigger. And, with the grey-coated Mauretania on the other side of the pier, the "Maury" looks like a yacht in size compared to the two larger craft.

The Ottawa Citizen announced the arrival of British prime minister, Winston Churchill, in the United States on January 2, 1952:
Winston Churchill stepped from the liner Queen Mary to a coast guard cutter in New York harbor today to hasten his landing for a meeting in Washington with President Truman. As Churchill stepped from the big Cunard liner to the cutter Navesink, a gray drizzle gave way to bright sunshine. A British flag was hoisted on the Navesink in tribute to the visitor. Churchill jovially waved to crowds lining the rail of the Queen Mary after he boarded the smaller ship.
And the Palm Beach Daily News printed among its society notices on January 4, 1962:
Mrs. Paul Healy who has been coming to Palm Beach for many seasons, arrived at her apartment at the Everglades Club in time to have a small party...on New Year's Eve. As is her usual custom Mrs. Healy left early in June from New York aboard the Queen Mary for London where she spent two months at Hotel Claridge. During her stay in London she attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

01 January 2011

Wedged Into Corners with Lifejackets Handy

This week in the history of the Queen Mary:

On December 31, 1937, Captain R. V. Peel, Commander of the Queen Mary, retired from active service with the Cunard White Star line after taking over for Sir Edgar Britten. According to The Glasgow Herald, Captain Peel, "...made a dramatic dash to take command of the Queen Mary in October, 1936, when Sir Edgar Britten was found unconscious in his cabin. About to start a three weeks' holiday he had to dress, pack, and dash to the liner in a car, and reached her when all was ready to cast off."

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on December 29, 1943, that Staff Sergeant Robert E. Subury was missing in action after arriving in the South Pacific aboard the Queen Mary. "While he was aboard," the paper said, "this vessel was reported sunk, but that later proved erroneous and he arrived in Port Moresby after a trip around the tip of Africa."

The Sunday Star reported on December 30, 1951, that the Queen Mary had arrived in port 72 hours late due to a severe storm. Captain Harry Grattidge said it was "the worst Atlantic crossing I have seen in 31 years." At least 42 on board were injured during three nights of violent weather, and few passengers got any sleep. "Huge seas stove in portholes and smashed furniture and crockery in the cabins...Some passengers wedged themselves into corners and sat up all night with lifejackets handy," the paper reported.

One passenger quoted in the article, Mrs. Robert Mattuck of Vermont, stated that the sea "invaded [her] cabin, 40 feet above the waterline." Her 10-year-old daughter was drenched, as were their Christmas presents.

The Miami News reported on January 1, 1961 that 31-year-old former seaman, Leslie Larner, would return alone to Great Britain without the woman he had followed to America as a stowaway on board the Queen Mary. Miss Phyllis Scanlon turned him into immigration authorities when he attempted to stop her marriage to a serviceman she met in England.