The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

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The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:03 pm

Thank you to Brian & Bob
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Queen-Mary-Veterans/146833565407985

In December of 1940 the Queen Mary was again dry docked in Sydney for the installation of a degaussing strip. Hitler knew that England, being an island nation was dependant on her shipping industry for her very life. All goods and supplies came in via the sea lanes and so Germany concentrated on weapons designed to kill ships. One of the devices Hitler’s scientists came up with was the magnetic mine. This weapon would be drawn to the steel hull of transport and warship alike and coupled with the U-boat danger was devastating to Britain’s ability to wage war. The British Admiralty devised a unique solution to the threat of these mines with the creation of the degaussing band. This band was attached to the hull of a vessel and would have a low electrical current continuously run through it; this would neutralize the magnetic field of the hull causing the mine to “ignore” the passing ship.-Copyright Brian Clune
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:07 pm

On May 4, 1940 the Queen Mary left Sydney with 5,500 Australian servicemen to be delivered to Clyde, Scotland. Among the ships in this west bound convoy were the RMS Mauritania, RMS Aquitania and the Canadian ships Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada and Empress of Japan. There was urgency in getting these troops to England because the war was going badly in mainland Europe and it was believed that Germany would invade France at any moment. The Aussie troops were to be used to help bolster the defense of Britain as a large majority of English troops were now moving toward Belgium. Hitler invaded France and the Low Countries on May 12th and by the time the Queen Mary arrived back at Clyde on June 16, the war in France was all but finished, so now the fresh Australian troops were needed even more. The British army had been driven back hard, giving ground until the channel cut off any further retreat and the men of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) swarmed the beaches of Dunkirk. The British admiralty sent out the call to any vessel capable of carrying men to rally to the aid of her soldiers and so it was that the greatest rescue in the history of the world and war took place as thousands of civilian ships and boats, yachts and dinghies converged on the French coast and began bringing men home from the battlefield. Many men were lost but just as important was the fact that the English army had lost all of its tanks, motor carriers and artillery. The Queen Mary had delivered her Australian charges just in the nick of time.-Copyright Brian Clune
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:08 pm

By the end of January 1946, the RMS Queen Mary was ready for her brides and her babies.
February 5th dawned foggy and cold but as the passengers gathered in front of the U.S Army units to be cleared through Immigration and customs they were all smiles. Still in her wartime gray, the Queen Mary nonetheless still looked regal as they boarded for the voyage to their new lives. The crossing took a few days and the passengers passed the time by attending lectures on life in the United States including American history, politics and citizenship, monetary and budgeting practices as well as child care and nutrition for the expectant new mothers traveling to the States. Dance lessons and socializing was the norm in the evenings after dinner was enjoyed in the dining rooms.
The children traveling to America were treated to games and toys in the three nurseries that had been restored on the ship. The craftsmen had built hobbyhorses; dollhouses and any number of toys for the tots to play with and some of the older children were treated to educational tours of the various work areas of the ship including the engine room and bridge...- Copyright by Brian Clune
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:09 pm

GI Brides leave London for USA.

For most this would the first trip out of the UK and many were apprehensive about how they would be treated in America and what their news lives would hold in store for them. For their children however, it was the start of a grand new adventure.
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:10 pm

Brides and Babies

...on January 14th, 1946 the Queen Mary entered the King George V graving dock to once again be transformed for her new job: this one however would be a joyous voyage to unite families.
Over the next sixteen days the Cunard Queen would be stripped of all of her military hardware that she had picked up over the last six years of war with the biggest attention being the removal of “personal” engravings. Over the war years and with thousands of allied soldiers being transported by the Queen Mary it was not surprising that the soldiers would carve their names, unit numbers and other more “colorful” bits of information along the teak railings and other surfaces that they could get their hands on. The railings were removed and replaced with temporary pieces while a virtual army of sailors scrubbed and scraped other areas of the ship to remove any trace of what could be an embarrassment to the women and children the ship was preparing to board.- Copyright Brian Clune
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:11 pm

The RMS Queen Mary left Southampton 3 days before Hitler invaded Poland and began WWII. Captain Murchie found out by communique about the start of the war and was ordered to make all haste to the safe harbor of New York and remain there to await further instructions. Queen Mary immediately instituted black out rules to avoid German U-Boats and arrived in port Sept. 4, 1939, the day after Britain, France and the commonwealth officially declared war on the Third Reich.-Copyright Queen Mary Veterans
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:12 pm

On February 18th 1942, the Queen Mary was dispatched to Australia on what was called by American troops the “40 days and 40 nights” cruise. This was the first time the Cunard ship carried US troops and while her passenger list could now reach 10,000 men, on this cruise she would only carry 8,398 servicemen and 905 crew, still an impressive number for that time. - Brian Clune
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Sun May 05, 2013 3:12 pm

war letter

The following letter, one of a series, was written by George Edwin "Ned" Black to his parents in Fargo, North Dakota. He was 19 years old at the time and had been traveling throughout Britain with a college friend.

On Board R.M.S. "Queen Mary"
August 30, 1939

Dear Family,
But a moment ago I began to write you when the trumpet sounded the muster at the life stations; so I was forced to give up my work and attend. That completed now and being thoroughly safe and saved, I may return to my original plot and write as intended--but starting anew, and I am hoping for it, better.

I have very grave concern for the nervous health of all of you--and particularly Mother. Dad's two cables have had a convincing nature--that worry is an uninvited visitor at our house. I am much afraid that crises have made the position of anyone, near or about London, that of a manifestly and thoroughly dead man--requiring only an early burial.

I need hardly tell you that the continent and Britain are on the threshold of another war. I need not say that all are prepared to fight again in the names of justice and peace, corrupted and perverted--you probably know more of all this than I do.

I knew little of the crisis until my first day in London. I was astonished and astounded that, during these weeks of apparent apathy, the crisis had taken on such grave nature again. Don told me of it my first night in London. The next day we were advised to evacuate! I will tell you more of this when I am returned.

Preparation for defense was being advanced in every quarter of the city. Sandbags (and their number is increasing rapidly) were being placed in important buildings to absorb shock. Blimps are stationed in Green Park, ready to arise at a moment's warning to drop cables to ward off enemy planes. Anti-aircraft guns are stationed at located points--notably Hyde Park. Troops are constantly being called up--and our second night there, several especially-commandeered buses were loaded with men directly in front of our hotel--or better said, our pension. In the streetsaluminum paint is daubed upon curbings and pedestrian islands, as traffic precaution in a blackout. Street lights are being dimmed, changed, removed, or screened (even to the traffic lights). Tubes are being prepared to carry women and children to remoter quarters immediately upon the declaration of war. Museums are being closed, art treasures are fast disappearing into safe caverns or cellars.

Naturally, all citizens hold gas masks, have allotted shelters to give them sanctuary, if there is a sanctuary from a posse of shrapnel and bombs. Hundreds--nay thousands--have left the city for the south of Wales: yet there is no panic, no riot, no confusion. All moves on at its usual pace--and, but for a few wild-eyed Americans, calm and quiet confidence and strength is everywhere, in every face, on every lip, in every eye. They seem to feel that this will be a messy little business, but the policing must be done--and after it's all over, there's plenty of soap.

In Canterbury the stained glass was all being removed and the crypt was in a clamor with partitions, packed with sand, appearing as the workmen labored hurriedly. Students at Cambridge are crating old manuscripts. The thirteenth century West Gate at Canterbury has a small garrison of artillery in the north tower. Banks, stores, offices of the government have established rural centers for records and archives. Even the boat on which I travel will be under partial black-out when night comes (the lounge windows by which I sit are blinded) and smoking will not be permitted out of doors.

And in the churches the faithful gather in a silent prayer for peace. But peace is lost. As I stepped aboard the ship this morning from the pier, a man called to his friend from his bicycle, passing by, "I think we shall be over there again," and the friend replied, "Yes, I think we shall." And, lacking the intervention of something greater than we, they will.

They will die, these men. They will believe to the last that they know why they die. But I do not believe they do. I think no one does...
My love to each
Ned

In 1944, Ned Black was shot dead by a sniper while serving in France. He was 24 years old.

Source:
Andrew Carroll. War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars
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Re: The Queen Mary Veterans Thread

Postby Jemm » Mon May 06, 2013 5:22 am

With the war now over..The RMS Queen Mary, still regal looking in her war time paint steams into New York harbor with a crowd of exuberant GI's finally home from European battle fields.-Brian Clune
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