| Just before Christmas in 1943, the
150th (c) Engr Bn went aboard the Queen Mary in New York and set out for
England. We were given a special assignment doing a lot of services on
the boat and so received our own rooms and beds. Of course the rooms were
changed to include two hang-up cots on the walls and the beds were end
to end and the rooms were crowded. Still we had a room for twenty four
hours a day. Other outfits on board for the trip were allowed only eight
hours a day in a room with a bed and had to spend the other sixteen hours
as best they could on deck or elsewhere, their clothes on or with them
in barracks bags. The weather was bad with wind and cold and our trip was
classified as the roughest the Mary had.
Many of the troops and even the regulars on board got sea sick, some for a little while and others for the entire trip. We ate only twice a day, first breakfast and later on dinner. I remember one morning, walking up the stairs, after eating kidney and eggs. A soldier who was sick, vomited. He turned to me and said "God damn. I haven't eaten in two days. I'm going back and eat again." He wiped himself as clean as he could, turned around, went down the stairs to try again. The slop was left on the stairs with some already there and it made it a little more difficult to keep your balance on the rocking boat.
On Christmas eve, on the radio, we all listened to a radio broadcast by President Roosevelt saying, "I want to assure you mothers that none of your sons will be on the sea at Christmas." Of course we all laughed and thought that he was trying to confuse the Germans so they wouldn't try to catch us.
Soon in Scotland, we guarded the exits for unloading. I was assigned one of the exits that was being used by ships crew and civilian workers to unload the ship. A small man about five feet tall and about 120 lbs came up with a front two wheel lift that was heavily loaded with boxes. There were other people coming aboard so he had to stop. He tipped the loaded carrier upright and waited until the workers came on board. Then he tried to tip the carrier back on the wheels but he was so small, that he couldn't bring the heavy load back. I went up to him and reached over one of his arms to help. He got peeved, said something in his scottish accent and took off. He never came back during my time on guard. The lift was loaded with the good things that we were supposed to be eating, turkey and candy etc. I wondered afterward whether he was perhaps taking something to serve off the boat. At any rate, he was a little short of a welcome we might have inspected.
Soon we were off the Queen Mary and on our way to finish our free trip with expenses paid.