Tag Archives: Blue Riband

QUEEN MARY Maiden Voyage Anniversary

ImageImageImageImageImageMay 27 will be the 78th anniversary of Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage.  The event was very much celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic and the liner was booked to capacity.  Attached are a few items commemorating that day.  The tie was made exclusively for the Maiden Voyage by Austin Reed and sold to first-class passengers aboard ship.  The paper napkin with the image of ship and date is in remarkable condition considering its age.  The chrome-plated ship’s propeller was given out free by the Magnesium Bronze and Brass Company who built the four propellers.  Its face says “R.M.S. Queen Mary – MAIDEN VOYAGE 27 MAY 1936″.  It, too, has survived the decades with the plating intact.  The bronze medallion was also available in the gift shops and is quite rare.  The cup and saucer are made by Aynsley, a fine British china maker, also sold aboard.  The press coverage was tremendous and thousands upon thousand of Brits watched the departure from Southampton and thousands upon thousands watched the arrival in New York.  Radios around the world broadcast the occasion in varying languages, detailing the hustle and bustle of pleasure craft surrounding her.  Movies made from that day were shown in theatres around the world before the feature films.  Of course, England longed for the much coveted Blue Riband of the Atlantic for the fastest Atlantic crossing but fog hindered the Queen’s speed and she did not break the record until August.  She held the title of largest and fastest liner for the next 14 years.    

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QUEEN MARY at a Full Gallop

ImageThe Queen Mary at a full gallop on her maiden voyage to New York in May of 1936.  In this remarkable and rare postcard, the bow wave created by the liner’s charge at 32 knots was between 50 and 60 feet high.  The Blue Riband was an international trophy awarded to the world’s fastest liner.  France’s Normandie had captured the award a year earlier in 1935 but the Queen reclaimed it for England in August of 1936 by being the first ship to cross the Atlantic in less than 4 days.  The two superliners both had 3 smokestacks and a cruiser stern but Normandie was considered chic and modern while Queen Mary was stately and regal.  Many critics panned England for creating a liner with the lines reminiscent of an earlier era, only more mammoth.  But Normandie always sailed with half of her passenger complement while Queen Mary was booked solid for nearly 2 years!  Passengers absolutely flocked to her and she is, without doubt, the most successful liner of all time having served 6 years in World War II as a troop transport.  She still holds the world’s record for the most passengers aboard a single ship:  16,863 GIs and crew in 1943.  Painted drab grey and stripped of her luxurious furnishings, she earned the nickname Grey Ghost for her abrupt arrivals and departures when accommodating and delivering troops around the world.  Her speed enabled her to outrun torpedoes yet she still zigzagged across the pond to deter a wolf pack of Nazi submarines that may have been waiting.  She was delivering entire divisions to the war front at once and Hitler was furious.  He offered a quarter of a million dollars and the Silver Cross to any U-boat commander who could sink her.  After the war, she was commissioned to bring British war brides and their children to a new life in America. She resumed her peacetime career in July of 1947 and held the Blue Riband until the liner United States took it in 1952.  After millions of miles traveled and millions of passengers transported, she was retired in 1967 due to the influence of jets that could fly across the Atlantic in hours rather than days.  Too large and expensive to upkeep, she was sold to the city of Long Beach, California where she is permanently docked and serving as a hotel and tourist attraction.

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March 7, 2014 · 1:40 pm