Texas Military Forces Museum


111th Observation Squadron
World War II Narrative History

Part III:  At Sea

We woke in the morning conscious of a steady throbbing throughout the ship which had not existed the night before. The die-hards among us headed for the chow line and then the deck, just in time to see the Statue of Liberty slip by. Most of us stayed in the sack, however, because reports on the chow were not heartening and we couldn't see much sense in getting out of bed to see Miss Liberty going in the wrong direction.

The six days spent aboard the Queen Mary were a hodge-podge of "Sweating out" super PX lines, being constantly lost in the maze of decks, corridors and stairs that are contained in the ocean-going behemoth, and active participation in the 24-hour crap games that could be found in operation in every other stateroom. Not even on the high-seas could we avoid the suspicious stare of the military police. No passage way was complete without one and they took delight in apprehending GI's wandering loose without a life preserver in their possession. One morning while reading the daily ship bulletin board we noted with interest that the German government had claimed to have sunk the Queen Mary again for the sixth time.

Early in the afternoon of October 2, 1942, the upper deck of the Queen Mary was jammed with troops enjoying an after-lunch promenade. The rails were lined with O.D. clad soldiers who were watching with interest the maneuvers of several British destroyers and cruisers which had joined the Queen that morning to serve as an escort. From time to time, one of the warships wood scoot across the bow of the liner diagonally, and at the moment an anti-aircraft cruiser had started its run in that direction. As the cruiser neared the liner it became apparent to those that watched that the cruiser did not have enough speed to make a successful passage and we kept waiting for the smaller ship to veer off and try again. An enemy submarine was suspected of being on the port side of the Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary struck the cruiser directly amidships and severed the bow from the stern. We who watched were stunned and horrified at what we were witnessing. The after part of the stricken ship scraped the starboard side of the Queen Mary and we could see no life on the decks. Men were draped from cables strung around the cruiser deck and lay in crumpled heaps on the steel deck. Depth charges and torpedoes, which had broken loose from their mounts, scooted past with all sorts of nondescript wreckage. In a quarter of a minute, what had but a moment before been a fine man-o-war was now a fast disappearing hulk far in the wake of the Queen Mary. The grim realities of war had hit us suddenly.

The collision had torn a huge hole in the bow of the speedy liner and was slowed perceptibly while emergency repairs were made to enable her to reach port safely. Sickened by what we had seen, we made our way back to our berths.

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