1858 engraving of Victoria

Colonial History Vancouver Island

Maureen Duffus - Author and Historian


Excerpts - Beyond the Blue Bridge

The Secret Wartime Visit of S.S. Queen Elizabeth

Edward Izard
Edward Izard, gen. Mgr. Yarrows

How do you hide a gigantic 85,000 ton ship in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and later in a drydock in Esquimalt for 13 days? Impossible - but spread the word in wrime that "loose lips sink ships" and you have the entire population of Esquimalt, who could see the liner from various locations, pretending not to notice.

Not a word was reported in newspapers or radio broadcasts, even though hundreds saw the Queen Elizabeth from shore, and over a thousand civilians and military personnel worked around the clock during her stay. The whereabouts of the Cunard liner had been a subject of world wide speculation after the unfinished ship was taken over by the British Admiralty during the spring of 1940. She was sent to North America to ecape German bombing and eventually arrive off Esqumalt on February 23, 1942. Notes from the late Edward Izard, general manager of Yarrows shipyard, tell the remarkable story of the great ship's conversion to an armed troop carrier in just 13 days.

A copy of the invoice to Public Works of Canada for drydocking the ship, referred to as SS Fall in an attempt at secrecy, gives details of the immense task of drydocking a liner that squeezed in with mere inches to spare.

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