30 October 2012

Shoving, Pushing, Pulling

Story on the R. M. S. Queen Mary from this day in 1950:

New York Day by Day -- By Charles Driscoll

NEW YORK -- Diary: When the Queen Mary smokes up, preparatory to shoving off for England, she casts a sudden pall over the Hudson side of midtown. I was temporarily disabled by one of my historic nose-bleeds the other day, and had to sit quietly, moving as little as possible, in the living room of a suite at the Henry Hudson hotel, overlooking the river.

A great array of the most modern ocean liners were (or was) tied up along the river. Biggest was the Queen Mary. She was quiet, with no sign of life as I began the watch. Because I had to keep very quiet, I thought that the Queen might be having a nose-bleed too.


Suddenly the Queen began to smoke from her forward funnel. Then she let out two blasts of her whistle, which is really a mechanical device similar to the horn on a diesel locomotive, but much louder. It shivers the timbers for miles around.

The smoke was not black, but brownish. It drifted inland, covered the humble old water flats of thta [sic] region, and raised into the sky. Another blast from the warning whistle. The second funnel was smoking. Then the third. Evidently, these funnels are not phoney, as are most smokestacks on modern ocean liners.

You could observe very little activity in the neighborhood of the ship, from where I was sitting. A dark mass on the pier, stirring slightly. That would be the customers and their friends.


There were more blasts, in series, of one, two and three. Then the tugs came up importantly, maneuvering around the hull of the big ship, poking with their noses, pulling from the stern, smoking too, in their little way.

The Queen is definitely slipping backward, into, the stream. The tide is running downstream. The crows [sic] on the dock (piers, properly speaking) are waving, singing. Almost as if there were no war clouds covering the earth.

You can't count the tugs from my window seat. They seem to be everywhere, noisy, shoving, pushing, pulling.

The two loud blasts from the Queen, and she floats free. The tugs cast off. She is headed down river, on her own power.

Many minutes later you can hear the three short blasts, down toward the harbor signalling the Farewell to America for this voyage.

Yes, it is impressive.


There was a big ship in what appeared to be the next berth to the Queen. Although I could not read her name on her bow, I recognized her as La Liberty [sic], the reconditioned German liner, now French, which the United States gave to France as a sort of party gift. The French rebuilt her, and recently I was aboard at a sort of maiden voyage party.

La Liberte started to smoke up as soon as the Queen was out of her berth. She has a good horn too, and she let the world know that she was going down the river presently. Without quite so much smoke as the big ship, she slid into the river, and started down toward the Bay with a farewell toot or two.


Two smaller ships, both appearing quite modern, probably rebuilt since the war, were waiting. All must take advantage of the tide, but the big ships need more tide than the little ones. These two were eased out into the river silently. But they'll get there, too.

(Released by McNaught Syndicate Inc.)

- Greensburg Daily Tribune


24 October 2012


Reported this day in 1956:

Liner Queen Mary May Be Seized In Tanya Case, Hint

Washington, D. C.--A high immigration official said Wednesday that the British liner Queen Mary might be subject to United States seizure for carrying little Tanya Chwastov out of the United States on Oct. 3.

Tanya's departure was illegal because she is a United States citizen who had no passport, according to James L. Hennessy, executive assistant to Joseph M. Swing, immigration commissioner. The 1954 immigration law, he said, provides forfeiture to the United States of any vessel knowingly involved in such a violation.

Eye on Cunard Line

Hennessy told the senate internal security subcommittee that Swing had ordered a full investigation of the "fiasco" over Tanya's departure to see if "action against the Cunard line is warranted." The British owned Cunard line operates the Queen Mary.

Hennessy said the inquiry also was concerned with "a breakdown in communications" between immigration officials in New York and the service's headquarters here on the day Tanya and her Russian refugee father, Alexei Chwastov, sailed on the Queen Mary. An order to hold up the sailing was issued then revoked.

Halted by Custody Suit

Chwastov's efforts to take Tanya from London to Russia have been blocked at least temporarily by a custody suit filed in the British courts by the child's mother, Mrs. George Dieczok of Detroit.  Chwastov is a former common law husband of Mrs. Dieczok and the father of the child. The subcommittee wants to know what part, if any, Soviet officials in this country may have had in the removal of the child from the United States.

- The Milwaukee Journal

22 October 2012

A War Story

On this day in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Sir Winston Churchill and Captain James Bisset

Churchill Planned Death, Says Skipper

Hobart, Tasmania, Oct. 22 (AP) -- Sir James Bisset, former captain of the liner Queen Mary, says Winston Churchill planned his own death during the war rather than risk falling into enemy hands.

In a speech at Launceston last night, Bisset said he was responsible for the safety of Britain's wartime prime minister on three voyages on the Queen Mary.

Always, he said, a special lifeboat crew was standing by to take Churchill should the liner be sunk. In addition a man stood by with a loaded pistol to shoot Churchill should his capture by the Germans seem imminent, Bisset said.

(In London, Churchill's secretary said Churchill had heard of Bisset's speech but had "no comment at all.")

- Spokane Daily Chronicle