The first line says the most, the rest is interesting history about the original QE. This was from an article sent out to agents....
Our newest liner is being designed in the spirit of the legendary Cunard Queens. Learn more about the fascinating history of her namesake, the original Queen Elizabeth.
The new Queen Elizabeth will evoke and celebrate the era of grand transatlantic liners and floating palaces of the past, including, of course, the original Queen Elizabeth. In anticipation of the 2010 debut of Cunard's newest Queen, here is a brief history of her storied predecessor.
The original Queen Elizabeth was launched September 27, 1938 by Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI (later the Queen Mother). She was the largest passenger ship ever built, and held that record until 1996.
The advent of World War II forced this grand ocean liner in-the-making to go straight from the fitter’s yard to New York, unfinished, in order to escape the attentions of German bombers. She was made seaworthy whilst in New York, and on November 13, 1940, set sail for Singapore, where she was fitted with defensive armament and was requisitioned for the war effort.
In 1942, Queen Elizabeth began ferrying American GIs to Europe. A liner designed for approximately 2,000 guests was instead carrying 15,000 soldiers on each voyage. The men had to eat and sleep in shifts and even the swimming pools were fitted with bunks. Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary travelled unescorted to deposit soldiers in Europe and were not only faster than U-Boats, but were fortunate enough to sail more quickly than torpedoes, though it was reported by the German press that Queen Elizabeth was struck by a torpedo on November 11. Hitler even offered a £100,000 reward to any German U-Boat to sink Queen Elizabeth or fellow Cunard liner Queen Mary.
By the end of the war in Europe the Queens had brought over a million troops to the war zone. The ship's next duty was to repatriate these troops and redeploy troops for the war against Japan. The repatriation of American troops continued until October 1945 when the Queen Elizabeth was released from US service and allocated to the repatriation of Canadian troops. On March 6, 1946 she arrived back in Southampton and was released from Government service as the need for troop movements had diminished. During the war she had carried over 750,000 troops and travelled 500,000 miles.
After the war, Queen Elizabeth returned to civilian service in 1946, beginning a Golden Era of Transatlantic travel for Cunard. After speed trials and a visit by the Queen, accompanied by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, she travelled to Southampton and set out on its maiden passenger voyage to New York on October 16. She hosted film stars and royalty and drew crowds of press photographers as celebrity guests stepped ashore in Southampton and New York.
The famous Cunard slogan of this era – “Getting there is half the fun” – is still a phrase that people use today when talking about travel. The first class Verandah Grills on the Queens were among the finest and most famous dining establishments in the world – we continue this tradition today with our Grills Restaurants on all our Cunard Queens.
For 22 years Queen Elizabeth sailed legendary Transatlantic Crossings, but the popularity of air travel provided formidable competition to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In 1968, the ship was taken out of service. She was being converted into a floating university in Hong Kong in 1972 when a number of fires mysteriously broke out simultaneously. In December 1973 it was decided to scrap the hulk. The ship's final protest came on November 5, 1975 when she rolled over and eventually sank, but her memory and legacy live on in Cunard’s rich heritage.
The exciting history of her namesake leaves one pondering the great adventures that await future guests of Cunard’s new Queen Elizabeth!
Cunard Commodore Agency
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