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.

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