A very tiny piece of ephemera in The Sayers Collection represents a very big story.
The document, a piece of cardboard 3 x 2 inches, appears to be nothing more than a cabin assignment on board Cunard’s wonderful Queen Mary for a person named ‘E. Appell’.
This person was assigned to Cabin M71, in an Upper Berth. The possibility of a lower berth has been crossed out. “So, what”, you may think. “What makes this so special?”
What makes it special is the stamped franking on the back. It was applied in Southampton, so the passenger was travelling westbound. And the date? On 22 May 1946, the Queen Mary was totally engaged in ferrying War Brides – thousands of them – from Britain to North America at the end of the Second World War.
It took a lot of courage to travel from the U.K. to join a man who would not be wearing a handsome uniform when you were reunited with him, in an unfamiliar town or city where the language was the same but the houses and cars were different and people had a ‘a funny accent’.
In The Sayers Collection there is more ephemera from War Bride journeys – menus, postcards, Cunard Captain greetings, and even a note from one of the cabin crew reminiscing that they carried War Brides westward, and on the eastbound return trips they carried German Prisoners of War being repatriated to their homeland.
Ephemera brings new life to historical events. If a member of your family was a War Bride, you can now add more information to your genealogical resources.
This ephemera and a large number of other Ocean Liner items is contained in The Sayers Collection in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library. A vast quantity of other ocean liner ephemera capturing social, shipping, historical, and commercial information in The Sayers Collection, continues to migrate across the Atlantic to the John Johnson Collection.