Bring back some good or bad memories


August 15, 2014

Crowded ship bringing American troops back to New York harbor after V-Day, 1945

This is troopship Queen Elisabeth. The Queen Elizabeth together with the Queen Mary were used as troopships in the Second World War. Their great carrying capacity and speeds of over 28 knots were a huge asset to the Allies. The Queen Elizabeth, (carrying capacity over 15,000 troops and over 900 crew), was to carry 750,000 troops in total and she to travel over 500,000 miles.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph. [Troopship returns], 1945. New-York Historical Society.

The voyage would take about 5-7 days on average to go from the East Coast of the US to the British Isles while bringing troops to Europe. It looks crowded because everyone is on deck as it is pulling into harbor (look at the top of the picture). If the average cruise ship did this it would look similar, also these ships were packed full of people as well. According to Eisenhower’s memoir some troops were complaining to the press about the slow rate at which they were being returned to the states. He got wind of this and asked a big gathering of men at an event he was attending whether they wanted to continue filling the ships at normal capacity, or be crammed the hell into them to get home as soon as possible. They overwhelmingly applauded the later option.

How did anyone find their family members when everyone got off the boat without cell phones? Actually not anyone entered in contact with their family. They say some of them we still wandering with backpacks and small american flags trying to find their families. Which is really sad. The others and the most of them would use Western Union. Your family likely would not be waiting for you at the dock unless they lived near the harbor as train transportation was actually pretty expensive. You would get off the ship, go to a Western Union office, send your family a telegram telling them when and how you would be getting home, and then get the train there. There were other options, such as long distance telephones, but a telegram would have likely been the most common. It’s also possible you don’t have the money for a telegram and you just show up in your old town.

(via Rare Historical Photos)


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