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The Bloody History of the Queen Mary

When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, she was the second largest cruise liner in the world, with almost twice the tonnage of the Titanic. Before the era of jet travel, luxury liners such as these were seen as the only way to travel in style, and famous personalities such as Fred Astaire, Bob Hope, Clark Gable and the royals were often seen enjoying it’s first class amenities while crossing the Atlantic from Southampton to New York City.

In World War II, she was converted into a troop carrier, earning records for carrying the most troops across the seas. Winston Churchill secretly traveled in it for Allied meetings in the United States, and demanded his own lifeboat with a machine gun, so as to fight until the bitter end, if it came to that. After the war, it functioned again as a passenger ship until 1967. It sailed to Long Beach, California, where it’s been a combination museum, hotel and tourist attraction ever since. The Queen Mary receives over 1.5 million visitors per year.

Queen Mary HauntingsSome of these visitors are permanent – ghosts and hauntings! There is even a show devoted to the ghosts of Queen Mary, and signs are installed within the ship where ghosts have reportedly been spotted. There is also a Halloween event every year, called Dark Harbor, which runs for two weeks leading up to Halloween (more on that later.)

So, what are some of these stories that would make this ship one of the world’s foremost haunted attractions? Let’s get into the bloody history of the Queen Mary, who witnessed 49 deaths onboard while in operation.

The Grey Ghost

In World War II, the ship was painted grey as camouflage, and due to that and the fact it held the world record for speed at sea, it was nicknamed The Grey Ghost. To avoid torpedoes, it sailed in a zig zag pattern, and once sliced through an escort warship that went off course, sinking it rapidly and drowning 338 of her 439 sailors. 40 years later, a television crew accidentally left an audio recorder running overnight in the exact location where the collision happened – the tape played back sounds of pounding hands on a metal hull and noises of drowning sailors.

The Crushed Crewman

In 1966, a young seaman named John Peddar was crushed to death in the depths of Engine Room #13 during a drill. To this day, visitors report sightings of a young man in coveralls wandering around. One visitor felt something brush across his face while visiting the room, and later his wife noticed a streak of engine grease on his face.

Ghostly Swimmers

There’s been several reports of ghosts in the first class swimming pools aboard the ship (which is empty), such as sightings of bathers in 1930’s era bathing suits. You can sometimes hear the sounds of splashing, and many have seen wet footprints on the tile. In the second class pool (long since converted into a theatre), a little girl named Jackie had drowned, and visitors can sometimes hear her calling for her Mommy, or her childish laughter and singing in the first class pool (where else would she go?) Some have also seen a little girl in the pool area clutching a teddy bear.

Little Spirits in the Playroom

There is a children’s playroom and nursery, where some visitors may hear children laughing and playing. In 1991, one passenger on a guided tour heard the sounds, but could only see the usual toys, games and books on the display. But then the doorknob began rattling and they heard the door being kicked. She quickly went to catch up with the rest of the tour group, but felt her purse and shirt constantly being tugged. I guess they needed a play companion?

A much darker spirit is that of a little infant named Leigh, who unfortunately died a few hours after birth (though not without the surgeons trying to save his life.) Some could still hear the wails of the baby while passing what was once the third class playroom.

The Woman in White

A “regular” ghost seems to reside in the ship’s first class lounge – a beautiful woman in a white evening gown is often seen dancing alone within the shadows. On one tour, a little girl, who had never heard of the sighting, kept pointing and asking about a “woman in white.” Nobody else saw it, but the girl insisted she was there, and continued watching her dance.

The Lonely But Playful Girl

In 2000, a hotel service member was vacuuming the carpet in the Exhibit Hall when the temperature suddenly dropped. Turning around, he saw a little girl sucking her thumb and floating in the air. She then stretched her arms out, as if wanting to be picked up. Her eyes were also glowing. Terrified, the crew member fled and reported the incident.

A few weeks later, just leaving the Grand Salon on R Deck, another cleaning crew member was pushing his mop and bucket. It suddenly jammed, so he checked to see what was stopping the wheels. He felt a presence, and turned around to see a little girl in a white dress and white hat sucking her thumb. She was floating in mid air and had no legs. She floated away into the Grand Salon, where the doors were shut (they were always open), and tried to open them. They swung out so powerfully it knocked the man to the floor. He heard the girl’s playful laughter recede in the distance. The next day, he checked the (open) doors, and realized they were much too heavy to be swung shut by one person.

Cabin B340

Cabin B340 Queen Mary hauntingsThis cabin is now closed for rentals, due to its high paranormal activity. Previously, guests sleeping in this room were awakened in the night by lights turning on and off, water being switched on and off, and covers being pulled off. Other people have heard a moaning, angry voice saying “Get out!”

There’s two (unconfirmed) stories involving this cabin. The first is that in 1948 it was used as a holding cell for a deranged man who had been threatening his family. When the family visited later, the men flew into a rage and murdered his 5 year old daughter. The second story involves a crew member who was murdered in the room in 1937, and that his ghost still resides there.

The Piano Player

One evening, a mother and daughter were staying aboard the Queen Mary for the night, and they were waiting for a friend at a quarter to two in the morning. They waited in the Lobby, which was deserted – even the front desk clerk has stepped away for a moment. The daughter decided to sit at the grand piano, which was constructed especially for the Queen Mary in the 1930’s. The lid on the keyboard was down, but suddenly a melody came from it. Both the daughter and mother heard it. They decided to wait for their friend outside on the deck instead.

The Dark Harbor Haunt

Queen Mary Dark Harbor EventMany people would list the Queen Mary as among the top world destinations for hauntings. To celebrate, the ship puts on a frightful Halloween bash every year. It features 7 mazes and attractions, as well as a complex for live entertainment, food and cocktails.

To enter the haunt, visitors must first pass through a 220 foot long, fog-shrouded tunnel of shipping containers containing ghouls and monsters. They then emerge at “Hell’s Bells Tower,” a 33-foot tower made of shipping containers and which shoots flames into the night sky. Throughout the mazes, pyrotechnical and other spooky special effects keep visitors spooked and their skin crawling. Such attractions include “Containment” where the ship’s infirmary gets a bit sick, “Submerged” where it feels like you’re sinking (the ship almost sunk once due to a rogue wave on choppy seas), and “The Village of the Damned” where creatures attempt to make you their permanent residents.

The show this year goes from October 7th to 31th, and prices start at $20. For more information, check out www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor. The Queen Mary is located at 1126 Queens Highway in Long Beach.

About Chris Molnar


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One comment

  1. Hi Chris,

    Who would have thought. All the time I lived in SoCal, I never knew this about the Queen Mary which was only 20 minutes away from me. Glad to see they do Halloween events.

    Really curious to know how you get your pic to show up in the search.

    Great creepy music for your site.

    Yael 300

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