May 16, 2011
We Are Cunard
Recently we had a very special reunion on board Queen Mary 2, during her first Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing of 2011. 15 World War 2 brides, along with their families sailed back to England to celebrate the 65th anniversary of when they sailed to the USA and Canada to be with their servicemen husbands. From 1939 – 1945 Cunard carried more than 2 million serviceman and their families on board our fleet and we were credited by Sir Winston Churchill as helping to shorten the war by a year. For many of the ladies it was the first time they had returned to the UK after making that life changing journey all those years ago.
During the Crossing, guests attended lectures from Bev Tosh, a Canadian war bride’s daughter and accomplished artist. Bev has interviewed hundreds of war brides in USA, Britain, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and these have evolved into a major touring exhibition called ‘one-way passage’
Ed Moffat from Queen Mary 2 met the group during the crossing, here he is with a guest blog and some great photos from the original crossings:
Assistant Entertainment Director
Queen Mary 2
The commissioning of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary during World War 2 did not end at transporting brave troops to and from Europe as part of the war effort. They had an additional roll of the transportation of a very precious cargo; they were of course the ‘War Brides’, women who had married service men from either Canada or the US and later decided to settle down with their new loved ones.
A group of around fifty ladies (and a few sons) all originally born in the UK lead by Beverly Tosh relived their special journey on board Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton. After over 60 years making the return trip home by sea passage to share memories of the liners and of course visit families back in the UK.
Jean Fell, originally from Yorkshire, England sailed on board Queen Mary on 3 June 1946 to join her new husband in Canada where she still lives. Beforehand her husband had returned home to Canada on board Queen Elizabeth a few months before her arrival. The Queen Mary was of course still in Military refit and painted grey. Jean recalls “getting sea sick after 3 days into the journey and spending a few nights in the Hospital which was originally the First Class cocktail bar”.
“This was also the time when penicillin was first heard of and the doctor ask if I wanted a shot in my rear and thought he said ear to which I leaned forward to offer my ear for an injection to which young doctor whispered no, in your rear!”
When Jean was not in the hospital she remembers the room in which she slept ‘Having eight bunks in the one cabin.’ she also recalled that the particular crossing she was recorded as one of the fastest at that time.
Kitty Snyder also joined her new husband with their son on board Queen Mary in 1946 making the journey over to the US.
“The one thing I was curious about was seeing my husband in his Civvies, I, of course had only ever seen him in his army fatigues, both my son and I were invited to dine twice with the Captain, I guess he was intrigued to find such a young mother travelling only with her son”.
Whilst on board Kitty had received a cable from her dad wishing her a safe trip and hoping that everything was going well.
“The weather was so rough all I can remember was spending the whole trip in my bunk.” It was also common for the captain of the Queen Mary to wish all the new brides well in the new homes.
Kitty Flew back home October 1947 for 2 months and made the return trip to the US on board Queen Elizabeth. She also spent a year working for Cunard on 48/49 Broadway, New York as a typist.
Lillian Burgess sailed from Southampton to New York on board Queen Mary in June 1946 to join her new husband in Halifax Nova Scotia. Also sailing on the same crossing was the Canadian Prime Minister McKenzie King “Mr. King personally welcomed all the ladies to Canada prior to our arrival there.
Joan James sailed on board Queen Mary from Southampton to New York in August 1946 with her 14th month old son. “There were so many other children on the trip, six years later we took a return trip back to the UK on The Sydney the children were looked after so well by the staff on board they were even treated to a tea party in First Class.”
Captain Paul Wright met the group and said:
“It was an absolute pleasure to welcome this group of women and their families aboard Queen Mary 2, Cunard and these women share a unique and proud history of providing service and dedication during war time.”
Thank you for a great guest blog Ed, what a special crossing that must have been! We’ll be back with more blogs this week, including Queen Mary 2 in Hamburg and we will reveal ‘Who’ was sailing with us to New York…