The real Queen Mary was built at Clydebank where the first keel plate was laid in May 1930. She was launched in 1934. Her maiden voyage was from Southampton on 27 May 1936. She arrived in Cherbourg in a little over 4 hours.
She departed Southampton for New York on 30 Aug 1939 on a final peacetime voyage. Due to the outbreak of war, she stayed in New York until March 1940, at which time she was ‘enlisted’ as a troopship.
An account from a British soldier:
“In 1942, when I was a young driver in the Royal Army service Corps, we boarded her at Greenock, Scotland and our destination was Egypt via Cape Town, Freetown and Aden….There were fifteen thousand troops on board, so as big as she was, the room to move about was very limited…. A couple of years ago, at a meeting, I got to speak to a member of a German U Boat crew and I said to him that our worst fear afloat was from U Boats. He said that although Hitler had offered half a million Marks to the captain that sank the Queen Mary, with a speed of 32 knots as compared with the surface speed of a U Boat of 16 knots or 8-10 submerged, they really had no chance of sinking her.”
In July 1947 she returned to commercial service. The Queen Mary that sailed on 31 July 1947 for New York on her first civilian post-war voyage was a very different ship to her pre-war self, as the type of passengers and crew she carried were much more diverse.
Her final commercial voyage was from Southampton on 31 Oct 1967, after which she retired to Long Beach, California where she remains today as a hotel and museum.
Known for her speed across the Atlantic, the Queen Mary took the Blue Riband speed record first in 1936 and again in 1938.
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