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"Valencia, CA (June 1, 2007) The world's most famous and best loved ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, will host 100 Southampton veterans at a special lunch, in conjunction with the City of Southampton, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands Campaign on Sunday June 10 while QE2 is berthed in her homeport.
QE2 joined the ranks of other famous Cunarders, including Mauretania, Aquitania, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth when she was called up to serve her country. 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 Fifth 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 June 11, 1982 was a national event and HM The Queen Mother welcomed QE2 home from the decks of the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Her return to Southampton was followed by a nine-week period of refitting and restoring the world's foremost passenger liner.
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".
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.
According to Sir Winston Churchill, the efforts of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Aquitania, reduced the length of World War II by a year as a result of ferrying 15,000 American GI's - 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."