Author Topic: Queen Elizabeth Memories  (Read 14105 times)

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Offline Stowaway2k

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #15 on: Dec 09, 2010, 04:19 AM »
A Farewell Letter

November 9, 1968

   Last week, we watched the departure of the Queen Elizabeth from her pier at the end of West Fifty-second Street.  After more than twenty years of passenger service across the Atlantic, she was sailing from New York for the last time.  Her retirement was announced last winter by the Cunard Line, and in a few months she will go to Port Everglades, Florida, where whe will remain, shorebound, to serve as a hotel and convention hall.  She is the largest passenger liner ever built, and her replacement, the Queen Elizabeth 2, will set no new record.  We arrived at the pier a few hours before the abdicating Queen was to sail, a little after noon.  A thin but steady stream of visitors and passengers was moving through the doors of the pier, and a clump of red-vested porters stood just inside, waiting for work.  There were fifteen hundred names on the passenger list, which had averaged under a thousand in recent sailings (she can take 2,082) and there were 1,180 in the crew.  Inside, the pier echoed with voices as people hurried back and forth talking excitedly, the way people always do at sailings.  Somewhere in the distance, a piper played a congested-sounding bagpipe.  We went aboard the Queen and wandered around the decks.  Near one gangway, a woman passenger was eliciting detailed instructions from a smiling young steward on where to watch the ship leave the dock.  From the sun deck, we saw on the pier a rusty old sign, half obliterated, saying “Queen Elizabeth.”  Flanking it were two spotless new ones – “QE2” and “France.”  When the new Queen is in service, these two ships will take turns making weekly sailings to Europe, as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth used to do.  The signs will guide the pilots when they are docking the ships.  Farewell parties were in progress in practically all the public rooms.  (As we passed one party, we heard a man say, “Last year, on the Queen Mary – “  but he was talked down by a companion , who said, “I’d like to go on the maiden voyage.”)  A band was preparing to play, and in the theater some Scottish countryside was on the screen.  There were parties in many of the cabins, too.  Even so, most people aboard were walking about looking at the ship.   
   A few minutes before eleven, we went to a small dining room aft, where there were to be some farewell ceremonies.  Mayor Lindsay and Commodore Geoffrey Thrippleton Marr, the master of the Queen Elizabeth, stood under bright lights waiting while microphones, cameras, and more lights were set up.  The mayor looked relaxed, and winked at somebody at one side of the room.  The Commodore was talking with a small group of men nearby.  Then the Mayor read a speech and presented to Cunard the city’s Bronze Medallion and a plaque from the Department of Defense.  He said, “Today, a great Queen sails to glory… We shall see her here no more.  We shall miss her.  But she will not be forgotten…. We shall never see her likes again…. In passing, it is interesting to note that the Queen Elizabeth is nearly three times as long as the Apollo 8…  It is fitting that we take time to say hail and farewell to the Queen Elizabeth.  It’s because we New Yorkers love thoroughbreds; we love champions; we love beauty; we love style… Unlike the other great transatlantic liners that received spectacular, enthusiastic welcomes arriving here on their maiden voyages, the Queen Elizabeth did not.  There may be a few here who remember how the Queen Elizabeth arrived in New York for the first time.  It was an overcast day – March 7, 1940… Dunkerque and Pearl Harbor were yet to come.  The Queen Elizabeth, camouflaged in grim gray, carrying no passengers and only a skeleton crew, had made a secret voyage from Clydebank to New York… The Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary carried nearly two million men to war and home again… It has been said that between them the Queen ships shortened the war by a year… That’s why so many New Yorkers will take time… to give the Queen Elizabeth a grand farewell – to make up for the solemn, little-noticed welcome twenty-eight years ago.”
   Commodore Marr then presented one of the ship’s goblets to the Mayor.  Some newsmen asked the Mayor to repeat part of his speech, and he did.
   “I don’t look forward to retiring at the moment,” the Commodore said to a reporter afterward.  Though he is under retirement age, he does not have a job on the new ship, and he is thinking of staying with the old one.  “I hope I shall still have a career with her there in Florida.  It will be like bringing one of the stately homes of England to America.  The Florida hotels will have a hard time matching her.  But I’d have liked her to stay at sea a little longer.”
   We headed for the main gangway, passing, en route, through an empty dining room at one end of which a long table was set with glazed joints of meat.  In the center of the table was a large cake, on which the cooks had inscribed a poem in icing:

With her record for war or peace
Meeting her duty to the last,
When she retires from the Atlantic
At the end of the year,
She’ll still be the Queen with a new

   In the writing room, a young man was enthusiastically photographing the desks.  Longshoremen were hustling people off the ship, shouting “Last call!”
It was eleven-seventeen.  One of the ticket-sellers at the foot of the gangway told us there had been twice the usual number of visitors.  The piper on the pier had been joined by three others.
   We made our way to a Circle Liner to join several hundred members of the World Ship Society, who had arranged to have the boat follow the Queen down the harbor.  Here, too, there were pipers.  The boat presently got under way, only to stop in the river off the Elizabeth’s stern.  Immediately, it began to list heavily toward the ship as people tried for a better view of her.  From loudspeakers around the boat came the voice of Mr. John S. Rogers, an admiralty lawyer, who is chairman of the Society.  “You’ll soon hear her whistle, keyed to the note A, when she is ready to back into the river,” he said.  “The ensign at her stern, the blue duster, will be lowered when the last line is let go from the pier, and hoisted again from the after mast.”  Six tugs were clustered at the end of the pier; code flags fluttered gaily on two of them – and on the Elizabeth as well – and parties were in progress on all of them.  On one were two more pipers.  We heard a scornful mutter from one of the Ship Society pipers; “Donegal!”
   “In her day the world’s largest moving object,” Mr. Rogers was saying.  “On her foremast is the blue-and-white signal flag for the letter “P”, signifying “Sailing today” – the blue peter.”  People packed the end of the pier.  Flags flew.  More tugs hovered in the river near the ship, along with motor yachts and two police boats.  Helicopters swooped out of the sky.  A line of chefs stood at the ship’s stern.  From one of the funnels came a puff of steam; the whistle rumbled.  “She’s moving!” people said.  “Its slack tide,” Mr. Rogers said.  It was half past twelve.  The ship moved slowly astern into the river.  The blue ensign went up the mast.  Below it, a long streamer started to unfurl.  “That’s the homeward-bound pennant,” Mr. Rogers said.  “She’s on her last voyage home.”  The ship moved past the Circle Liner, which then tilted the other way.  Tugs began to turn the ship’s bow downriver; the tugs doing the work were joined by a spectator tug from a rival company.  The Elizabeth whistled three times, thunderously, and the tugs tooted a reply.  The Elizabeth answered once, and then headed downriver under her own power.  The homeward-bound pennant, as it unfolded, revealed first red, then white, and finally blue, and, in the west wind, it streamed nearly three hundred feet off the Elizabeth’s port side, above the flotilla of accompanying tugs.  At Fourteenth Street, a fireboat was waiting, making fountains.  A Statue of Liberty ferry steamed up to meet the ship.  The pipers broke into “Will Ye No Come Back Again?”  At the battery, a second fireboat joined the flotilla, sending up sprays of water like ostrich feathers.  The Queen Elizabeth steamed down the harbor with seven tugs to port and four to starboard.  People waved from the Battery.  Below, in the bay, the Circle Liner was slowly left behind.  A man stood in its bow waving after the Elizabeth.  One by one, the fleet of onlookers peeled off, and at last the Queen steamed alone under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and started down the empty channel to the sea.

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #16 on: Dec 09, 2010, 09:15 AM »
Stowaway2k  thank for posting the letter which demonstrates the power of words to describe a moment in history.  Is this from a real letter or just the a description of the events of the day put into letter format?

"..and her replacement the QE2 will set no new records..."  But she did and we are all so proud of her.
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #17 on: Feb 08, 2011, 12:36 PM »
Thank you, Jeff and Kyle, for these wonderful memories and scenes from the Queen Elizabeth's life. I could read lots more!

These stories are so vivid, the scenes were there before my eyes.

And these mighty predecessors are very important for understanding QE2's world. During the 40 years that followed, this world changed so radically, and QE2 changed with it as it did. Sometimes it is hard to remember the details about those days when she was conceived and created -- very different days they were at sea from ours now.


  • Guest
Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2011, 08:27 AM »
Just read your amazing story Jeff. You were certainly a VERY LUCKY MAN to have been able to steer the Queen Elizabeth. What a fantastic experience. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.


  • Guest
Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2011, 05:58 AM »
Jeff, Here is a link to the RMS Queen Elizabeth entering New York harbour in 1965--

Offline Jeff Taylor

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2011, 02:45 PM »
That is an early morning view with the fog.  Great shot.  IIRC we came in mid-afternoon when I was aboard.

Online Bob C.

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2011, 03:42 PM »
Awesome photo.  I am appreciating QM's and QE's topside open decks more and more especially around the funnels. 

Speaking of funnels, the engineer in me is wondering why QE's funnels have relatively very few stay wires compared to QM's (pictured below) and older ships'.  Any one know?

The below photo can be found here -

« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 03:43 PM by Bob C. »


  • Guest
Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #22 on: Jan 11, 2012, 07:21 AM »
Link here to a video of the RMS Queen Elizabeth--more of a slide show--but interesting non the less. Very sad pictures at the end of the video. :'(-- :o-- :(

« Last Edit: Jan 11, 2012, 07:36 AM by Isabelle Prondzynski »

Offline Peter Mugridge

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Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #23 on: Jan 11, 2012, 11:13 PM »
Did you spot the incredibly rare picture at 1:42 showing her with the Seawise University name but still in Cunard colours?

And at 3:02 - that's the Mary, not the Elizabeth isn't it?
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"


  • Guest
Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #24 on: Jan 14, 2012, 08:18 AM »
Hi Peter, You are correct--the picture at 3:02-- IS the Queen Mary.The picture of her arriving in Hong-Kong harbour in Cunard colours but with the name Seawise University i don't think it is really that rare as it can be found easily on the internet.

Link here to images of the Queen Elizabeth---

If you then scroll down to the bottom of page 2-- and see the picture 2nd from the right--you will see my model of the "Seawise University" i made a few years ago.
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2012, 08:24 AM by bobso »


  • Guest
Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #25 on: Feb 17, 2012, 06:32 AM »
What an awesome post.  I love reading stories such as these, imagining what it must have been like.  Thank you for sharing.

Offline riskygizmo

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #26 on: Mar 03, 2013, 04:56 PM »
My late father in law crossed the Pond on the Lizzie. Unfortunately for him it was in 1944, the ship wore Battleship Grey and he was dressed in Airforce Blue. No comfy beds and slap up dinners, just standee bunks and spam.
Full Away on Passage.

Offline Jeff Taylor

Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #27 on: Mar 03, 2013, 06:33 PM »
Ditto my father in law.  He was on destroyers and was sunk twice--once off North Africa early in the war, and later somewhere in the Pacific.  They brought him home on the Elizabeth after the North Africa sinking.

Offline June Ingram

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Re: Queen Elizabeth Memories
« Reply #28 on: Jan 18, 2016, 12:48 AM »
PART 3:  This was one of those money losing crossing at the end, when there were only a few hundred passengers, and first class was mostly comprised of Cunard management on vacation junkets, but I will never forget it even though we came into New York with a decided list because they didn't want to ballast down, and for the only warm day of the crossing we couldn't use the pool because someone had left the steam valve on and it was over 100 decrees fahrenheit!

I shared this store with Commodore Ron Warwick and his lovely wife Kim at dinner one night and it apparently had special significance to him as he had buiried Geoffrey Marr's ashes at sea and knew him well (even though Marr thought he should have been entitled to QE2 which Bil Warwick got instead!).  The only real connection to QE2 was that the Staff Captain for this crossing was Larry Portet, who went on to command QE2 briefly.  It was a special time which will never come again.  My apologies for going on at such length.

Jeff makes mention in his post of discussing the burial of Commodore Marr's ashes at sea by Commodore Ron Warwick.
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !


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