31 July 2016

A Patch of Sunlight

On this day in 1947, the RMS Queen Mary, her murals uncovered and her staterooms restored, resumed passenger service after serving as a troop ship for the previous seven years. To celebrate the occasion, crowds of well-wishers turned out to wave good-bye, and a local band played Rule Britannia as the giant Cunarder departed the Southampton docks.

The last time she departed as a passenger ship, it was 1939 and the world was a different place. Gone, at least on this first voyage, was the glitter and decadence of the illustrious passengers who so commonly were found in the ship's salons in the pre-War years. Many of the travelers now were parents of British girls who had moved to the United States after marrying American soldiers. And among the first-class passengers, more than a few were going overseas for the first time--though there was a modest sprinkling of lords, politicians, and prominent business types aboard as well.

On the bridge for the Mary's return was Captain Cyril Gordon Illingworth. Despite his 44 years at sea, the captain still found occasions for exuberance. Maintaining his position on the bridge as the ship approached a fog bank, he exclaimed, "Look at that patch of sunlight. Did you ever see anything like it?" Some in those post-War years would see the Queen Mary in exactly the same way.

30 July 2016


From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1947:

Queen Mary Adds Luxuries
Cunard Line Service Improving Rapidly

The Cunard White Star Line has announced the addition of many new luxury features in the conversion of the 81,235-ton Queen Mary, the world's fastest liner.

Not only has the Queen Mary been restored to her former beauty, H.P. Borer, general manager of the line said, but many new features have been introduced. These include addition of new public rooms, air-conditioning and more public rooms and increased space for crew.

Former passengers on the 1,018-foot Cunarder will find most noticeable changes on the promenade deck where the starboard gallery has been replaced by a motion picture theater seating 200 persons.

The return of the Queen Mary will mark the first time that the two Queens and the Mauretania have been in luxury service together. Cunard officials termed it a most fitting manner of celebrating the one hundred and seventh anniversary of regular steamship service which it inaugurated July 4, 1840, with the sailing of the RMS Britannia, a 207-foot, 1,154-ton paddle steamer. The Britannia, carrying 64 passengers, made the journey from Liverpool to Halifax in two weeks. This is in marked contrast to the Queen Mary, which has crossed the Atlantic in less than four days.

New ships under construction and expected in service by late summer and fall respectively are the Media and Parthia, postwar passenger cargo liners of 14,000 tons.

29 July 2016

Distinguished Lady

From the "Social and Personal" column in The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

Mr. Evelyn Howard-Jones, the distinguished English pianist, who arrived in New York on the R.M.S. Queen Mary on Monday, is expected shortly in Toronto, where he will be the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Chapman.

28 July 2016

A Bunch Of Swells

From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1937:

Queen Mary With 2,000

Carrying a capacity list of over 2,000 passengers, the Cunard White Star flagship Queen Mary sails from New York today at noon for Europe. A theatrical contingent will be aboard, including Beatrice Lille (Lady Peel); Madeleine Carroll, English film star, and her husband, Captain Philip Ashley; Sonja Henie, former amateur fancy-skating champion of the world and now in motion pictures; Raymond Massey, the Canadian-born actor; Hunt Stromberg, producer for M.G.M.

Others sailing include Archie San Romani, U.S. distance runner, and his bride, Lena Plumley, on a honeymoon trip to Sweden; Sir Bede Clifford, former Governor of Bermuda, with Lady Clifford, en route to the island of Mauritius, where Sir Bede will act as Governor of the colony; George Cotterall of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Mrs. Cotterall.

27 July 2016

Don't Get Too Close

From The Miami News on this day in 1936:

Plane Crash Laid To Ship Downdraft

NANTUCKET, Mass., July 27. - (UP) - The crack-up at sea of the largest single-motored airplane in the nation, resulting in one death and injuries or shock to eight survivors, was attributed today to the powerful downdraft in the wake of the speeding Queen Mary.

The plane plummeted into the ocean five miles off Nantucket lightship yesterday while circling the giant New York-bound liner. Its pilot, Capt. William Wincapaw, who has flown some 2,000,000 miles during 23 years as an aviator, and all his eight passengers were rescued but one, Edwin T. Ramsdell, 46, Boston Post aerial photographer, died of his injuries aboard the freighter Exermont.

Two others, Walter Jordan, Christian Science Monitor photographer, and William G. Rueter, treasurer of the La Touraine Coffee Co., were reported to have suffered cuts.

The remaining survivors, who were severely shaken, were George Mason, vice president of the National Aeronautical association; Ezra S. Eaton, general manager of Thompson's Spa, Boston; Francis W. Carpenter of the Asscoiated Press; Herbert Stier, Boston Herald photographer, and Leslie Cain of Rockland, Maine, mechanic.

Though coast guardsmen offered to take the survivors ahsore by plane, all chose to go to New York aboard the Exermont.

At the time of the accident, the plane, a 10-passenger, high-winged Bellanca Airbus recently equipped with floats, was flying over the Queen Mary in a greeting to President Adriel Bird of the W. S. Quimby Co. of Boston, its owner.


26 July 2016

Back Home For a Spell

From "Dunedin Personals" in The Evening Independent on this day in 1945:

Pfc. Richard Kamensky is home on temporary duty after spending more than a year in England. He is attached to the English Air force and arrived on the Queen Mary.

25 July 2016

Troops In Transit

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1945:


To Sail From Southampton

Southampton has been designated a port of embarkation for troops being re-deployed to the United States, said a U.S. Army announcement yesterday. Transatlantic liners, including the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, are expected to dock there by mid-August, when the port will absorb virtually all the U.S. Army's shipping and re-deployment from the United Kingdom. Troops now leave by way of Scotland.

Southampton will have three staging areas capable of handling more than 33,000 troops at one time. All these troops will be in transit, stopping in the United Kingdom for only a few days en route to the United States. They will be at Tidworth, where more than 16,000 can be accommodated; Barton Stacey, near Crawley (about 7400 troops); and Southampton (10,000). Officials estimate they will be able to load one of the largest ships in approximately 48 hours.

24 July 2016

What's a $100 Between Friends?

From The Southeast Missourian on this day in 1945:

Britain Charges U.S. $100 Each For Carrying Vets on Luxury Liner

London, July 24. - (AP) - A responsible but unattributable source said today the British Ministry of War Transport charged approximately $100 for each American soldier traveling on the British liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, now being used for troop redeployment to the United States.

The charge is identical with that the government must pay the shipping companies operating liners, he said.

The source said the whole question was one of reverse lend-lease, and has not yet been settled entirely.