This is the final quarter Commutator for 2008 and two of QE2’s final voyages are described in notes made by Angela Becker and Barbara Magruder. Barbara sailed on her last transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton and Angela’s leg of QE2’s long journey to Dubai went to ports around the UK. Angela and thousands who love the grand lady wanted a keepsake to purchase and were told the ship had to arrive as is. The company had given the impression last June, when announcing the deal, that QE2’s heritage would be preserved. Cunard had hoped to keep the gutting of the ship secret until after the voyage and from Angela’s description, they succeeded.
In a mid-November story in the Times (London) from which this information came, little of the interior of the QE2 will be preserved and her famous silhouette will be altered by the removal of her funnel. In its place will be a tall glass funnel-shaped structure containing luxury suites. The original is likely to be taken ashore to become part of a grand entrance to the ship. The nine engines will be removed through the hole left by the removal of the funnel. The giant engine room, which many had hoped would be preserved and opened to the public, will become an entertainment complex. Almost all the 1,000 cabins will be ripped out and larger hotel rooms fitted in their place. The lifeboats suspended along the open deck will be removed. The Mayor of Southampton said he was disappointed to learn that the word, her homeport, Southampton would be removed from the ship’s stern. Robert Lightbody from Glasgow, whose father maintained the ship’s engines, said: “I’m now thinking it would have been better had she been scrapped. Lots of long-term crew agreed. What annoys me most is the way Cunard implied that she was going to be preserved intact.” QE2 thousands knew and loved is no more.
For many years Titanic historians speculated about an organ originally planned for Britannic. More often than not there have also been references to an organ that was actually intended for Titanic. This could be due to an understandable desire for certain items of antiquity to be linked with the lost White Star liner and Simon Mill’s fascinating detective story, traces down the facts as close as possible with an incredible piece of research.
With a lack of reliable accounts supporting Captain Smith going down with his ship, we are left asking why so many rumors and press stories assumed this is what happened. Besides strong evidence that Smith was seen on the bridge at the end, there is no evidence he actually went down with the ship. Part two’s conclusion of Smith’s fate by Tad Fitch might be answered by some statements Smith made many years ago.
In his article, Target Olympic: Feuer! Mark Chirnside only suggests the identity of the U-boat which attacked Olympic in the closing months of the First World War. After checking all his sources he is 99.9% sure that U53 was the one–it was at this time and place when Olympic was attacked. It’s a date that seems to match every known fact, and other liners were not there at the time.
Which was the more popular Lusitania or Mauretania? It seems to be the subject of widespread belief the ‘fact’ that Lusitania was more popular with passengers, even though Mauretania held the Blue Riband from 1909 and her older sister was never able to snatch it back. However, an examination by Mark Chirnside of the pertinent facts tells a rather different story.
Titanic Afterthoughts is a fascinating insight about a Titanic survivor many years after the disaster. Mr. and Mrs. John Snyder left in lifeboat No. 7, the first to leave at 12:45 a.m. with only 29 passengers, all were in first class and three crewmen to row. The author who interviewed Nelle Snyder a few years before she died made a parallel to old Rose’s comment from the movie, Titanic when she said, “waiting for an absolution that never came.”
Contents in this Issue
TARGET OLYMPIC: FEUER! By Mark Chirnside.
ON THE TRAIL OF BRITANNIC’S ORGAN By Simon Mills.
DOWN WITH THE SHIP: THE FATE OF CAPTAIN SMITH Part 2 CONCLUSION By Tad Fitch.
QE2, FINAL EASTBOUND CROSSING By Barbara Magruder.
QE2’S FAREWELL CELEBRATION By Angela Becker.
REMEMBERING MICHAEL RUDD.
LUSITANIA AND MAURETANIA: PERCEPTIONS OF POPULARITY By Mark Chirnside.
TITANIC AFTERTHOUGHTS Part 1 of 2 By James Glaeg
SEA POSTE: Complimenting Simon Mills’ story about Britannic’s organ, a THS member inquires about an organ slated for Titanic; where rope for Titanic was made; seeking information on the Mewes’ design swimming pool on Majestic (former Bismarck); when the iceberg was spotted why the order “hard-a-starboard” which is right when they meant to turn to port (left); identifying a printing block purported to be Titanic; finding the origin of the story stating “Titanic could not be sunk even by God.”
BOOK NOTES: Reviews of two new books: “Titanic, Victims and Villains” by Karen Kamuda “Titanic’s Last Secrets” by Tim Trower.
FRONT and BACK COVERS: Two stunning images of Aquitania. The front cover is early in her career depicted in an illustration (artist unknown) titled “Getting Underway” in the early 1920s and on the back cover is a striking photo taken in 1949 of her funnels in familiar Cunard red. Photos: THS Collection.