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.


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