May 10, 2007

Falklands Reunion On Board QE2

This press release appeared on

"Survivors of Ardent, Antelope and Coventry reunited 25 years on

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - May 10, 2007) - The world's most famous and best loved ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, will host 194 survivors of HM Ships Ardent, Antelope and Coventry at a special lunch to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands Campaign on Sunday 13 May in Southampton. The veterans will be returning to the ship which brought them home from the war in 1982.

Ardent, Antelope and Coventry were just three of the naval ships lost during a four-day period during the conflict. Ardent was sunk on 21 May 1982, Antelope on 24 May and Coventry the next day.

QE2's war record speaks for itself. She was almost unrecognisable following the nine-day conversion to troopship when the public lounges were turned into dormitories, fuel pipes were taken through the ship down to the engine room so she could be refueled at sea; helipads were constructed fore and aft, and the carpets were covered with 2,000 sheets of hardboard. Over 650 crewmembers volunteered for the voyage to look after the 3,000 members of the eth Infantry Brigade which the ship transported to South Georgia. During the voyage south, in order to avoid detection the ship was blacked out and the radar switched off and Captain Jackson and his fellow officers on the bridge were plunged into a navigational nightmare as they steamed on without modern aids, through an icefield in the dark.

Her tumultuous welcome home with the warship survivors on 11 June 1982 was a national event and HM The Queen Mother welcomed QE2 home from the decks of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Captain Jackson received the following message from the Queen Mother:

"I am pleased to welcome you back as QE2 returns to home waters after your tour of duty in the South Atlantic. The exploits of your own ship's company and the deeds of valour of those who served in Antelope, Coventry, and Ardent have been acclaimed throughout the land and I am proud to add my personal tribute".

To which Captain Jackson replied:

"Please convey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, our thanks for her kind message. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 is proud to have been of service to Her Majesty's Forces".

Her return to Southampton was followed by a nine-week period of refitting and restoring the world's foremost passenger liner.

This, of course, was not the first time Cunard ships have served Britain in times of war. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, according to Sir Winston Churchill, reduced the length of World War II by a year as a result of ferrying 15,000 American GIs - six times more than their maximum passenger carry - on each of their 50 30-knot dashes across the Atlantic.

And, as far back as the Crimea, Cunard was helping out when, among other things, the company transported all the horses that charged with the Light Brigade.

QE2 was not the only Cunard ship to go to the Falklands. The company's Cunard Countess, Saxonia, England and Atlantic Causeway were also utilised and its Atlantic Conveyor was sunk with the loss of six Cunard officers and crew including its Captain, Ian North."

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