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June 2011
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Cunard Celebrates 75th Anniversary Of The First Atlantic Crossing Of RMS Queen Mary

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June 2, 2011.

Last Friday Cunard Line joined enthusiastic well-wishers aboard Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to pay tribute to the legendary ocean liner on the 75th anniversary of her maiden Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to New York in 1936. A General Manager’s reception kicked off the celebrations and included maritime devotees and historians, former crew members and past guests of the iconic ship.

Also in attendance was a group of World War II squadron members, reunited for the first time since Queen Mary carried them across the North Atlantic during her service days as the Grey Ghost. Among these guests was Stuart Babcock of Hartford, Conn., who was with the 34th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron and sailed aboard a six-day Queen Mary Crossing on 21 March 1944 from New York’s Pier 90 to Glasgow, Scotland. Flying alone and armed only with cameras, the WWII photo reconnaissance squadrons were the eyes of the allied armies over every battlefield. Accompanied by his daughter, Susan, for the anniversary celebrations, Babcock was visibly moved to be back on board the vessel for the first time since his journey during the war.

Guests from the United Kingdom included a group from the R.M.S. Queen Mary Association, based near Southampton, England. Retired Cunard Commodore Ronald Warwick is the president of the organization, whose mission it is to preserve the historical legacy of the beloved ship.

Representing Cunard at the reception, spokeswoman Jackie Chase presented a commemorative print to John Thomas, Queen Mary’s historical consultant and master of ceremonies, that mentioned references to the ship’s dramatic impact on the 20th century – including Winston Churchill’s famous accolade about Cunard’s role in ending WWII one year early due to Queen Mary’s transport of thousands of American troops between the United States and Great Britain.

“Queen Mary is an icon of the 20th century who shall forever remain one of the world’s most beloved ocean liners, and an enduring symbol of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Chase, sharing excerpts from the commemorative print.

“Since 1967, when Queen Mary retired to her new home in Long Beach, California, she has continued to fascinate visitors from all over the globe. She lives to bear witness to the revival of Cunard’s ocean liner renaissance with the advent of her namesake Queen Mary 2, which proudly carries on the company’s traditions, heritage and hallmarks made famous by Queen Mary,” Chase added.

The 75th anniversary festivities continued throughout the weekend and included a fireworks show over Long Beach Harbor.

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