Beth's Book Review

Queen Mary and the Cruiser

db42e33a46cc486b9bef_Queen_Mary.jpg
db42e33a46cc486b9bef_Queen_Mary.jpg

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of the water . . . then looked down and realised it was the stern of our ship which now had nothing abaft B gun. Very frightened. We were listing to starboard about 30 to 40 dgrees. Clambered (too steep to walk) p the port side fo'c'sle and stood by the guardrail for perhaps thirty seconds.” (p. 103)

And then Able Seaman (Radar) Norman Blundell was dumped into the North Sea and prayed to be rescued from the sinking of the HM cruiser Curacoa, which had been sliced in half by the great Cunard liner, Queen Mary, on October 2, 1942. 338 men died in the tragedy and fewer than 100 lived to tell the harrowing story of how the noble Curacoa, built between 1916 and 1918, through a series of miscalculations and grievous mistakes, was torn apart by the ship it was her duty to escort during World War II.

Sign Up for E-News

This fascinating, though little known story, was reconstructed as the fruit of the labors of naval historian, David A. Thomas, and one of the Curacoa survivors, Patrick Holmes. Through meticulous research, the two authors reconstructed an authentic account of how the incident occurred, including detailed accounts by eye-witnesses on the Queen Mary as well as survivors of the Curacoa.

At the time of the tragedy, the Queen Mary was steaming toward Britain with over 10,000 American soldiers aboard, as well as 900 crewmen. Due to the fact that the British were at war already with Germany, there was a huge concern over the possibility of U-boats being in the area. Both the Queen Mary and the Curacoa were travelling in zigzag paths to make it more difficult for the U-boats to find their massive British target. However, when two ships are zigging and zagging, and the seas are tumultuous and high, it is not difficult to understand how they got in each other's way.

As the behemoth and the small cruiser came closer to each other, Leading Signalman Donald Eaton was on the bridge. He called to his friend Telegraphist Allin Martin over the voicepipe. Martin recalls, “Shortly afterwards, the upper bridge speaking tube clanged my “opp” indicated that any camera was to hand a particularly good view of the Queen Mary was available. Unclipping the bulkhead door, I stepped outside, where to my horror, I saw the enormous bulk of the Queen Mary bearing down onn our port quarter at about fifty yards range.” (p. 90)

The collision, which tore the cruiser in two, was barely felt as a bump on the huge liner. Men onboard the Curacoa immediately jumped overboard into the icy waters, many of them drowning immediately from the oil drenched water. Unfortunately for the sailors aboard the cruiser, the Queen Mary had strict orders not to stop no matter what happened, so she kept chugging toward the coast of Ireland, and quickly called for other ships in the area to rescue the men who had been dumped into the sea.

There is no simple explanation as to what caused the disaster, and it took years of wrangling with maritime law to figure out what had actually occurred, as the captain of each ship, Captain C.G. Illinworth of the Queen Mary and Captain John Wilfred Boutwood of the Curacoa each had his own perspective on the other's culpability in the fatal accident.

The Queen Mary and the Cruiser is a fascinating read, which I recommend, particularly if naval history intrigues you.

The young sailor quoted at the beginning of this review, Norman Blundell, managed to survive the sinking of his ship by laying across the seat of a motor boat which he found bobbing in the water. Although he was very frightened, seasick, and found the fuel oil particularly nasty (“He tasted it for months afterwards and remembers its taste to this day” p. 104) did survive and is actually the reason that I was aware of the story of the Curacoa.

Norman Blundell was my son-in-law's maternal grandfather, and the tale of his miraculous survival has continued to astonish our family each time we have heard the details. It was Ros, Blundell's daughter, who informed me of the existence of the Queen Mary and the Cruiser and I purchased it on Amazon as a holiday gift for my son-in-law. This thrilling gem of a book is a wonderful testiment to the brave men who gave their lives on that frigid October day in 1942.

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Bloomfield

Dine in Bloomfield Center for a Good Cause!

April 17, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- The Bloomfield Center Alliance (BCA) is giving people another reason to come and experience downtown Bloomfield.  Its new Bloomfield Center Gives Back initiative combines the BCA's objective of supporting local businesses with helping nonprofit organizations serving the town.  On specific dates between mid-April and end of May, people can dine in one of several ...

Township Looking for Artist to Restore Stay Strong Mural and Design Additional Mural

BLOOMFIELD, NJ--The Township of Bloomfield requests proposals and qualifications from artists for both the restoration of an existing “Stay Strong” mural and the design and implementation of a new public art mural on the opposite side of the train trestle, both located between 236 – 256 Broad Street. The Bloomfield Recreation & Cultural Affairs Department will administer the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_86a969eef49a99188b9b_mountainside_logo_meridian

Mon, April 23, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_55658f15772db1bdb9ff_kelly_mark

Tue, April 24, 6:00 PM

The Venetian , Garfield

Prepared. For Life Dinner with Captain Mark Kelly

Other

Carousel_image_c73e643803185b3e5a92_mountainside_logo_lockup

Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Hospital Conference Room 2 (Ground Floor), Glen Ridge

Becoming a Parent

Health & Wellness

Wed, April 25, 7:30 PM

Cedar Grove Public Library , Cedar Grove

The Bellevue Theater: Fade to Black or Double ...

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_a674372cd08008df8826_mini_magick20180408-125554-ihc4eg

Thu, April 26, 4:00 PM

Alzheimer's NJ Headquarters, Roseland

Alzheimer's 101

Education Health & Wellness

Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

Breathe to Live: Lung Health

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_73f84349c9d94a858ba7_demarest_hsa

Fri, April 27, 6:00 PM

Forest Hill Field Club, Bloomfield

Now Showing: Demarest HSA Tricky Tray

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Other

Bloomfield Police Department Blotter April 9 - 15, 2018

April 19, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The following police blotter has been issued by Lt. Anthony Sisco of the Bloomfield Police Department.

Shoplifting:

4/9/18- Rhett Ellis Age 53 of East Orange, NJ- Officers were dispatched to 77 Bloomfield Ave (Rite Aid) on a shoplifter in custody. Loss Prevention observed a familiar male suspect who is not allowed to be in the store. The suspect concealed two ...

Columbia H.S. Students Walkout of School on Friday as Part of National April 20 Protests

April 20, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - More than 200 students from Columbia High School (CHS) participated in a protest on Friday morning, one of many school walkouts planned nationwide to mark the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School school shooting, and to advocate for gun violence prevention legislation.

Students begin exiting the CHS building at about 10 a.m., with student leaders, who were ...

Parkland student survivors bring anti-gun violence message to Newark

High schools students from across Newark converged at Science Park High School on Saturday for a forum against gun violence featuring Jaclyn Corin and Alfonso Calderon, both survivors of the Parkland Massacre in Florida. 

The forum, which was attended by hundreds of Newark youth, was designed to allow New Jersey students to dialogue and develop coalitions in New Jersey and across the ...

Watchung Borough Council Votes to Close Library

April 21, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ  - The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night, before packed chambers and over 500 watching on Facebook live,  to close the Watchung Library and explore redevelopment of the library site on Stirling Road.

After years of discussion and debate, the council decided not to renovate the existing library or construct a new library. Mayor Stephen Pote ...

Amazon Works to End Stigma of “Free and Reduced” Meals at School

FLORENCE, NJ – There is a widely unknown problem in schools all over America: a stigma among many children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Rather than face the peer pressure of receiving breakfast or lunch through this federal program, many choose to remain hungry.

To help eliminate the practice, Amazon has partnered with Share our Strength’s “No Kid ...

Surf City Hotel's Application Rejected By the Surf City Land Use Board for Outdoor Dining

April 17, 2018

SURF CITY - There has been a lot of positive change going on at the Surf City Hotel the last two years and especially this off season. New owner Greg Gewirtz, his wife Colleen and other family members have been working hard completing renovations to improve the hotel, bar, liquor store, restaurant and night club.

The owners were hoping those improvements would include approval to set ...

The Issue of Alternatives to Elected School Boards

April 13, 2018

The time of electing local school boards should come to an end. According to the National School Boards Association, “the local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school ...

Letter to the Editor: Don't Complain. Vote!

Don’t Complain; Vote!

It’s no secret that people have strong feelings about what’s happening in our country. It’s also true that much of politics is local. In November, NJ-11th District residents will have the opportunity to choose a new congressional representative who will not only serve as a critical check on the federal level, but also determine how our distract ...

How Can Sports Therapy Loosen Up Winter Muscles?

Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned athlete, the winter weather can affect your body. In these cold conditions, muscles are forced to work harder to complete tasks. This extra effort can result in muscle soreness and damage to tissue. While you may not be able to avoid the cold, preventive measure can help avoid discomfort and injury. Learning and implementing sports therapy techniques, ...

Pro Staff Institute announces partnership with Uber Health

NUTLEY, NJ - Pro Staff Institute is proud to announce their participation in Uber Health, a new transportation program designed to provide transportation to patients. Pro Staff Institute is the first physical therapy center in the nation to leverage Uber Health, and joins over other 100 health care organizations in the U.S., including hospitals, clinics, rehab centers and senior care ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 20, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE ROAD - It looks like a State Police trooper is going to have to head to the bars to pick up chicks, indicted yesterday for intentionally pulling over women in a desperate attempt to land dates. Internal affairs learned the Trooper was pulling over two lovely ladies at the end of 2016, threatening to arrest them if they didn't hand over their ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Plainfield's Jennifer Popper & Carolyn Wellington

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Plainfield franchisees Jennifer Popper and Carolyn Wellington. TAPinto.net has more than 70 franchised online, local newspapers. Our franchise owners include journalists, hard-copy newspapers, and thanks to Jennifer and Carolyn, non-profit organizations such as the YMCA.

Find out how these local Plainfield, NJ residents ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

The German Girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016)

For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are exceptional, some are fair. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, an award-winning journalist, ...

12th Annual Coffee and A Cause 'Friendraiser' at the Salvation Army, May 3

April 21, 2018

The Salvation Army will celebrate its 12th Annual Coffee & a Cause “friendraiser” on Thursday, May 3rd 2018.

The Salvation Army came to Montclair in 1891, a time when the community was coming into its own. As times changed so did the needs of the community.  In the late 1970’s The Salvation Army expanded the scope of services it provided and developed a social ...

A Walk in the Park, 2018

A Walk in the Park, 2018

“A Walk in the Park” is a tour sponsored by the Nutley Historical Society that will be held on Sunday, May 27.  The tour, led by Nutley Museum director John Simko, begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Mud Hole (near the intersection of Passaic and Vreeland avenues) and travels along the Third River.  Mr. Simko will talk about the river’s role in ...

Kingsland Colonels vs Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club at 4th Annual Base Ball Classic

Love Baseball?  Love history?  Watch 1860s Base Ball!

The Kingsland Manor Presents

The Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club

Versus

Kingsland Colonels of Nutley Base Ball Club

4th Annual Base Ball Classic

May 5th, 2018 at Yanticaw, Boys Park, Nutley, N.J.

The Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club plays by 19th Century rules, uses authentic replicas of 19th Century ...

Bloomfield Resident Recognized as Metro YMCA’s Top Employee

Bloomfield resident Sharon Malone works behind-the-scenes at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, but her contributions impact all 1,500 employees, helping them do their jobs better.

As quality assurance specialist for the seven-branch Metro YMCA, Malone “is the master of systems, details and ultimately stewardship and mission,” Chief Development Officer Lisa Kelly said.

Obituaries

Jul 21, 1966 - Apr 6, 2018
Sheila Rossi (nee Borges) 51, of Nutley, NJ died peacefully on April 6, 2018. Visitation will be ...
Read more
Jul 14, 1934 - Apr 3, 2018
Patrick Joseph Moran, 83, of North Caldwell, died on April 3, 2018. Relatives and friends are ...
Read more