27th September 1938

RMS Queen Elizabeth is launched

The Queen Elizabeth ocean liner was built at John Brown & Company’s Clydebank dockyard. She was launched and Christened on 27 September 1938 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (wife of George VI and mother of Elizabeth II), and set off on her maiden voyage on 16 October 1946.

Her first sailing as an ocean liner had been delayed by several years by the outbreak of the Second World War, during which she was used as a troop ship. In early 1940, she was painted battleship grey and sent out to sea.

The government went to great lengths to cover up what her mission was, making false bookings in hotels around Southampton for her crew, and preparing a dock there to receive her. However, she sailed to New York, where she docked alongside the Queen Mary.

“Remarkable voyage”

On 9 March 1940, the Falkirk Herald revealed that “this remarkable voyage, made in secret and without passengers, became known after it had been revealed that the liner had left her fitting out basin at John Brown’s yard at Clydebank on February 26… Germany was utterly unaware that work had progressed to such a stage that she was able to make her first trip.”

The reason for her New York trip, as given to the media, wasn’t the full story. The Bradford Observer of 8 March 1940 told readers that “it was learned in London yesterday that the reason the Queen Elizabeth crossed the Atlantic was to make room for other ships. Every home birth is now needed for the ceaseless stream of shipping entering our ports despite Germany’s desperate efforts.”

After seven months in New York, she was back at sea, this time sailing to Singapore via South Africa, where she was fitted with anti-aircraft guns and, in 1942, she began the job of moving troops around the world.

Royal party

Despite having proved herself seaworthy during the war, the Queen Elizabeth still had to complete sea trials after peace had been signed before she could be certified for passenger use. These were performed off the Isle of Arran, with the Queen Mother, and princesses Margaret and Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) aboard.

The Queen Mother would return to Scotland exactly 14 years after launching the Queen Elizabeth to unveil the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge.



Other events that occured in September

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