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Order of Service for QUEEN MARY 2 Remembrance Service

Date: 1 April 2011
Dimensions:
Overall (closed): 210 x 148 mm
Overall (open): 210 x 295 mm
Medium: Paper, coloured ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Program
Object No: 00050673
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

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    Description
    A Remembrance Service was held on board QUEEN MARY 2 to honour the Australian veterans who were transported to war on Cunard Line's QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH - ships which were called into service as troopships during World War II. This service was held one day after the modern-day ships of the same name repeated the wartime 1941 Royal Rendezvous of the sister ships at The Heads off Sydney.
    SignificanceThis Remembrance Service was held to honour the Australian veterans who were transported to war on Cunard Line's QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH - ships called into service as troopships during World War II.
    HistoryThe construction of RMS QUEEN MARY was completed in May 1936 by John Brown & Co at Clydebank, Scotland and it conducted its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 27 May 1936. Between 1936 and 1967 it acted as a passenger liner for the Cunard line. Her sister ship, QUEEN ELIZABETH, was once the largest ship in the world and was also built by John Brown & Co in 1940.

    When World War II broke out QUEEN MARY was at sea and headed to the nearest safe port, New York. QUEEN ELIZABETH was yet to be fitted out and the decision was made to prepare it to a minimum standard and send in secret to New York as well. During the war both ships were called into service and transformed into troopships. The ships, which were painted grey and nicknamed 'The Grey Ghosts', transported Allied soldiers, military personnel and prisoners of war between Australia, Egypt, the Middle East and Singapore. They were efficient and could carry up to 16,000 troops at any one time. The QUEEN MARY was fitted out to be a troopship in Sydney, Australia and made its first voyage from there on 5 May 1940.

    The first dual visit to Sydney was on 9 April 1941 but because of their large size, both could not be accommodated at the same time. They passed each other at The Heads with thousands of onlookers watching from the foreshore. Both ships visited Sydney a number of times between 1940 and 1942 with the QUEEN MARY visiting 13 times and the QUEEN ELIZABETH visiting nine times.

    After the entry of the USA into the war, the two ships travelled as fast troop carriers across the Atlantic, only being escorted when nearing the British Isles from the Irish coast to the safety of the Clyde due to the threat of German U-boats and German long range bombers. On 2 October 1942 the QUEEN MARY and cruiser CURACAO, which was acting as an escort, collided due to a navigation error. CURACAO sank with the loss of 338 officers and men. The QUEEN MARY was severely damaged but was under order not to stop. She signalled to other vessels in the escort fleet to pick up survivors.

    On 22 February 2011 QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN MARY 2 replicated the 1941 historic passing at The Heads and Royal Rendezvous. Unlike 1941, in 2011 both vessels arrived in Sydney Harbour together. On 23 February a Remembrance Service was held on board QUEEN MARY 2 to coincide with the departure of the QUEEN ELIZABETH from Sydney. The service commemorated the war veterans who had sailed on the earlier ships. Australian veterans who had sailed to war on the liners were among the honoured guests. 92 year old Cyril Burcher DFC, a former RAAF pilot, was specially honoured for thwarting a U-boat attack on the QUEEN MARY in June 1943 while on convoy duty.

    Australian National Maritime Museum Director, Mary-Louise Williams, attended the function in the course of her duties.

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