With Germany launching their Bremen and Europa into service, the British did not want to be left out in the shipbuilding race. White Star Line began construction on their 60,000 ton Oceanic in 1928, while Cunard planned a 75,000 ton unnamed ship of their own.

    Construction on the ship, then known on
ly as "Hull Number 534", began in December 1930 on the River Clyde by the John Brown & Company Shipbuilding and Engineering shipyard at Clydebank in Scotland. Work was halted in December 1931 due to the Great Depression and Cunard applied to the British Government for a loan to complete 534. The loan was granted, with enough money to complete the Queen Mary and to build a running mate, Hull No. 552 which became the Queen Elizabeth. One condition of the loan was that Cunard would merge with the White Star Line (builders of the Titanic), which was Cunard's chief British rival at the time and which had already been forced by the depression to cancel construction on its Oceanic. Both lines agreed and the merger was completed in April 1934. Work on the Queen Mary resumed immediately and she was launched on 26 September 1934. Completion ultimately took 3½ years and cost 3½ million pounds sterling in total. Much of the ship's interior was designed and constructed by the Bromsgrove Guild.

Below is an all too brief history of the RMS Queen Mary, our favorite haunt, created by means of lifting from Wikipedia. While Wikipedia touches on many of the most interesting facts about the ship, our research has garnered us many more that we will soon share with you.

    In late August 1939, the Queen Mary was on a return run from New York to Southampton. The international situation led to her being escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Hood. She arrived safely, and set out again for New York on 1 September. By the time she arrived, the Second World War had started and she was ordered to remain in port until further notice alongside the Normandie. In 1940 the Queen Mary and the Normandie were joined in New York by Queen Mary's new running mate Queen Elizabeth, fresh from her secret dash from Clydebank. The three largest liners in the world sat idle for some time until the Allied commanders decided that all three ships could be used as troopships (the Normandie would be destroyed by fire during her troopship conversion). The Queen Mary left New York for Sydney, w
here she, along with several other liners, was converted into a troopship to carry Australian and New Zealand soldiers to the United Kingdom. In the conversion, her hull, superstructure and funnels were painted navy grey. Inside, stateroom furniture and decoration were removed and replaced with triple-tiered wooden bunks (which were later replaced by standee bunks). Six miles of carpet, 220 cases of china, crystal and silver service, tapestries and paintings were removed and stored in warehouses for the duration of the war. The woodwork in the staterooms, the first-class dining room and other public areas was covered with leather. The Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth were the largest and fastest troopships involved in the war, often carrying as many as 15,000 men in a single voyage, and often travelling out of convoy and without escort. Their high speed meant that it was difficult for U boats to catch them.

    On 2 October 1942, Queen Mary accidentally sank one of her escorts, slicing through the light cruiser HMS Curacoa off the Irish coast, with the loss of 338 lives. Due to the constant danger of being attacked by U-Boats, on board the Queen Mary Captain C. Gordon Illingworth was under strict orders not to stop for any reason, and the Royal Navy destroyers accompanying the Queen were ordered to stay on course and not rescue any survivors.

    In December 1942, the Queen Mary was carrying 16,082 American troops from New York to Great Britain, a standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel.   While 700 miles from Scotland during a gale, she was suddenly hit broadside by a rogue wave that may have reached a height of
28 meters (92 ft). An account of this crossing can be found in Walter Ford Carter's book, No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love. Carter's father, Dr. Norval Carter, part of the 110th Station Hospital on board at the time, wrote that at one point the Queen Mary "damned near capsized... One moment the top deck was at its usual height and then, swoom! Down, over, and forward she would pitch." It was calculated later that the ship tilted 52 degrees, and would have capsized had she rolled another 3 degrees. The incident inspired Paul Gallico to write his story, The Poseidon Adventure, which was later made into a film by the same name, using the Queen Mary as a stand-in for the SS Poseidon.

    During the war, the Queen Mary carried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic for meetings with fellow Allied forces officials on several occasions, he would be listed on the passenger manifest as "Colonel Warden,” and insisted that the lifeboat assigned to him be fitted with a .303 machine gun so that he could "resist capture at all costs".

Interim Contents lifted from Wikipedia--More to come

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