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Oh for sure Pilotdane. My families history with Southampton goes way back. My great Grandfather started out as a coal bunkerer, born in 1894 he got to service many liners just after 1910 until his WW1 call up.
Infamy, Infamy.... They've got it in for me! Said The Laughing Assassin.
Just looked at the superb slides uploaded by mgkeane 2003 on the thread on the old site. Tremendous clarity and a marvellous capture of a moment in time that belie their age of some 48 years. Loved those.
In an attempt to create a sort of 'soft link' between the thread of HMS Kilham/Orion etc and this, I spoke at length to my father of 84 years over this weekend about his memories of the Kilham, and it transpires that after completing his initial training in Devonport and Plymouth, he - together with many thousand other fresh faced British matelots - were gathered together and transported on the Mauretania to New York in 1943 to await draft orders which would see them forming the new British crews on lend-lease ships supplied by USA.
Wonder if HE managed to get into the first class areas?!!!
The following info is taken from Wikipaedia, and makes for an interesting read. She was apparently painted battleship grey and fitted with 2, 6" guns.
"The Second World War (1939 - 1947)
Mauretania sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 17 June 1939 under the command of Captain A T Brown (who delivered the previous Mauretania to the shipbreakers), after remaining in New York for a week she returned to Southampton via Cherbourg on Friday, June 30, 1939. Like Aquitania, 25 years before, Mauretania was to experience only the briefest period of commercial operation before the outbreak of hostilities halted this work for over six years. Returning from the next voyage, Mauretania called at Southampton, Le Havre and finally London where she berthed in the King George V Dock. From August she was switched to the London- New York service for which she was intended. Here she supplemented the Britannic and Georgic on the London to New York service.
On 11 August 1939 she left on her final prewar voyage to New York. On her return she was requisitioned by the Government. Mauretania was armed with two 6-inch (150*mm) guns and some smaller weapons, painted in battle grey, and then despatched to America at the end of December 1939.
For three months the ship lay idle in New York, docked alongside the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, and the French Line's Normandie, until it was decided to use her as a troopship. On 20 March 1940 she sailed from New York to Sydney, via Panama, to be converted for her new role. She had an exciting voyage out to Australia via Bilbao, San Francisco and Honolulu, tracked for much of the way by the enemy and having to evade concentrations of U-boats that were known to be lying in wait for her. This conversion work was carried out in April and in May she left Sydney as part of one of the greatest convoys ever mustered for the transport of troops. With her were Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Aquitania, with 2,000 troops, bound for the River Clyde via South Africa. Other notable liners in this great convoy were Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, Empress of Asia, and Nieuw Amsterdam. During the early stages of the war the ship transported Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore but later she mainly served in the North Atlantic. Like Aquitania, she amassed over 50,000 sea miles over the course of her war duties, first criss-crossing the Indian Ocean, then working the Atlantic with American and Canadian troops and finally serving in the Pacific. One of her wartime voyages, of 28,662*nautical miles (53,082*km) duration, took her right around the world, taking 82 days to complete. During this epic voyage she established a speed record for the crossing time from Fremantle, Australia to Durban, South Africa. The 4,000-mile (6,400*km) distance was covered in 8 days and 19 hours at an average speed of 21.06*knots (39.00*km/h). Another wartime troop transport voyage began in New York on May 10, 1943 and ended in Bombay on June 24, 1943, with calls enroute at Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro, Capetown and Diego Suarez. On 8 January 1941 she was involved in a minor collision with the American tanker Hat Creek in New York harbour.
After the war's end, Mauretania made several further voyages for the Government repatriating troops. This mainly took the ship to Canada and Singapore. Mauretania took the first dedicated sailing of English war brides and their children being patriated to Canada to join their husbands, landing at Pier 21 at Halifax in February 1946.
During the Second World War she travelled 540,000*miles (870,000*km) and carried over 340,000 troops. the Mauretania was not designed to be an exceptionally fast ship and during her war duty her engines had received little attention for six long years of service as a troopship, she achieved a turn of speed in 1945 making the passage from Bombay to the UK via the Cape at an average speed of 23.4*knots (43.3*km/h). On 2 September 1946 she returned to Liverpool, was released from Government service and immediately went into Gladstone Dock to be reconditioned by Cammell Laird & Co. for return to Cunard White Star service."
Very interesting read, it sounds like she had a very similar experience to the 'SS America', which ran under the name of 'USS West Point' during the war. Both being called to service shortly after starting their normal commercial lives, and both steaming many of thousands of miles transporting troops etc. Though it would appear that the Mauritania covered an extra 100,000 miles (436,144 nautical miles for the USS West Point, compared to 540,000 for the Mauretania.)
But the USS West Point carried more wartime passengers - 505,020, compared to the Mauritania's 340,000.
Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.
The main reason I love this image is the setting in which it is painted: at dusk and with all those lights so visible. It creates and aura and atmosphere around the ship. Very exotic. Makes me dream of how it must have been seeing such a great ship up close and personal.
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