Hey everyone. October is the time to talk about ghosts and hauntings, right? This month’s Mystery Monday is about the retired British ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary.
The ship first sailed on May 27, 1936, as part of the Cunard-White Star Line. During World War II, she was converted into a troopship and ferried Allied soldiers during the conflict. After the war, the Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service. She was retired in 1967, left Southampton for the last time on October 31 of that year, and is now permanently moored in Long Beach, California.
There is a legend behind her name. The directors of Cunard decided to name the ship after Queen Victoria. They approached the reigning monarch, King George V, for his blessing. “We have decided to name our new ship after England’s greatest Queen.” King George replied, “My wife (Queen Mary) will be delighted you are naming the ship after her.”
The ship is now a tourist attraction with restaurants, a museum, and a hotel. Guests can book a room in any of the 347 original first class staterooms or suites. The restaurants offer both fine and casual dining, bars, and a royal Sunday brunch. It is also available for conferences, weddings, and social events.
But when the sun goes down, it’s said the Queen Mary, or some of her “permanent residents” come out to play.
One former ship tour guide is quoted as saying, “One day I was standing on the stairs of the pool, and out of the corner of my right eye I saw a woman, probably in her 60s or 70s, in black and white. So I went down the stairs and around the pillar, expecting to find her standing there, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. It was only a matter of seconds… she couldn’t have gone anywhere.”
The former skeptic became a believer.
After her arrival in Long Beach, one of the first people to work onboard was marine engineer John Smith. He claimed to have heard something unusual in the ship’s bow several times during a two-month period. “I could hear the sound of metal tearing, water rushing. And then, men screaming. It sounded like there had been a rupture of the ship’s hull. It was frightful. I went up to the extreme bow section of the ship. The sound was there, but there was no water and nothing to cause it. I don’t believe in supernatural things, but in all my experiences as a marine engineer, I’d never seen anything like this.”
Later, John read about a tragic incident during World War II. The Queen Mary accidentally collided with a British cruiser named the Curacoa. Over 300 men were killed when the larger ship’s bow sliced the Curacoa in half.
Smith said, “After I read that article, I was so shook up and so overwhelmed, the very area where I heard that mysterious water rushing was the exact same area that was damaged when the ship hit the Curacoa. I said, ‘This is what it would have sounded and felt like if I had been in that compartment at the time.’ But I knew it couldn’t be.”
Dozens of other sightings have been reported including the sound of a little girl playing in the pool area and observations of a child’s wet footprints walking toward the locker room.
During a routine fire drill in 1966, a man named John Peddler was crushed to death by a watertight door. Some say Peddler still haunts the area, and his ghost has been observed by several people. If you visit the Queen Mary¸ the ship offers ghost tours and walks after dark. With my fondness for taking ghost walks, this is one tour I’d love to be a part of.
Update: After I wrote this post, The Queen Mary closed after the company that operated her filed for bankruptcy. The ship is in dire need of repair and it’s up to the City of Long Beach to either renovate or scrap the vessel.