27th September 1938. The Liner in War and Peace.

In response to the holding by Germany of the Blue Riband in the early 20th century, the British Government lent Cunard £2.6m on condition that it built two turbine-driven liners which were capable of sustaining 25 knots.

By the 1930s the economic depression saw shipping companies losing money, so Cunard were forced to merge with the White Star Line in 1934.(1)

In the event the Queen Mary launched in 1935 was to gain The Blue Riband a year later.(2)

RMS Queen Elizabeth

RMS Queen Elizabeth.

On the day the Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, Cunard’s Chairman Sir Percy Bates, told his designers to prepare for a second ship-Hull 552-with the contract signed with government financiers in October 1936.

The result was RMS Queen Elizabeth, launched Today in 1938 on the Clyde. Built by John Brown for the now Cunard, White Star Line, it was then the largest liner in the world.

The ship very nearly entered the water unnamed, as weighing 83,000 tons, the timbers restraining her broke, causing her to slide towards the water, necessitating a quick release of the champagne.


However war intervened and she entered service in February 1940 as a troop transport. A month later at Singapore she was refitted and armed for action.

Not until 1946 did she assume her role as a liner.

By the 1960s air-travel across the Atlantic was increasing with Pan Am’s Boeing 707’s, liner passenger numbers declined, so Cunard now turned her business to cruises.

A refit followed but return to operating was stopped by the 1966 seamen’s strike.

Queen Elizabeth was to make her final cruise on the 5th of November 1968, to be replaced by QE 2 on the Transatlantic Route.

However more trouble was in store for RMS Queen Elizabeth, which being sold and converted to other uses, fire was to eventually destroy her in Hong Kong Harbour in 1972.

The QE2 was sanctioned with government loan in 1960, with the proviso that she be available for national service, which came with action in 1982 in the Falklands.

QE2 from an helicopter.

QE2 goes to war: scene from an helicopter.

She was Cunard’s Flag Ship until 2004, to be succeeded by Queen Mary 2, and in service until 2008, when sold to Dubai.

By 2015 we had a new breed of passenger liners with the Queen Mary 2 for ‘Express’ (2004); and for ‘Cruises’, The Queen Elizabeth 2007 and The Queen Victoria 2010.(3)

(1) at 2 ¾ % interest and promised an annual subsidy of £150,000.

(2) The Queen Mary held the Blue Riband in 1936 and was Flag Ship from 1936-1946 until this role was taken by the newly refitted Queen Elizabeth.

The Queen Mary was withdrawn in 1968 and  is now at Long Beach, California.

(3) Queen Mary 2 of 148,000 Gross Tons; with the others of 90,000 GT.

Ref: cruiseserver.net/travel.

Ref: wikipedia.org/RMS_Queen_Elizabeth and for QE2.

Ref: thegreatoceanliners.com/queenelizabeth/Pic Image.

Ref: dailymail.co.uk/April 2014/ QE2-went-to-war/Pic Image.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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