If you love a good ghost story, you’ll be delighted — and admittedly, a little spooked — when you delve into the storied history of the RMS Queen Mary, a retired ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic from 1936 to 1967. The ship became famous for ferrying troops that helped defeat Hitler during World War II, and it emerged as the choice ocean liner of the rich and famous in post-war 20th century. It earned the nickname The Stateliest ShipAfloat during this period, partially because of its palatial Art Deco interiors.
For many ghost-hunters, it’s the place that inspires spirits to stick around on this corporeal plane. From its military past — it was converted into a military vessel during the Second World War and was painted grey, earning it the nickname “The Grey Ghost” — to its posh, post-war amenities, this iconic ship provides plenty of opportunity for those who want to connect with the departed.
The Queen Mary, officially retired in December of 1967, now sits permanently moored at the port of Long Beach, California. This haunted legend is an essential site for lovers of haunted America and American maritime history. Just check out the legends for yourself…
The White Lady
In present day, the Queen Mary functions as a tourist attraction and a hotel; visitors are especially intrigued by one woman who checked in, but never checked out. Guests and workers alike have reported sightings of the White Lady — a woman, dressed in a ghostly white evening gown, floating at the end of a first-class lounge called the Queen’s Salon— for more than half a century. Whether you believe it or not is up to you, but there is some photographic evidence for the curious.
Perhaps it’s Little Jackie’s tragic history that inspired her to stick around the haunted vessel, but we may never know. Jacqueline Torin was 5 or 6 when she drowned in the ship’s second-class pool, which is now the Royal Theater. Visitors report hearing Little Jackie splashing, calling for her parents, and even responding to questions when prompted. Some visitors believe that Jackie has a friend, Sarah, who drowned in the same pool in 1949.
Just like Little Jackie, John Henry has a sad story of his own that has inspired ghost-hunters to try to reconnect with his spirit. Henry worked in the boiler room, and it was here that his remains were found. Ghost-hunters report seeing Henry’s shadowy figure lurking between the boiler room and the green room. Some even claim to have spoken with Henry, who sometimes audibly responds to questions about beer.
Grumpy is arguably one of the Queen Mary’s most memorable ghosts. Also known as “Grumpy the Growling Ghost,” this spirit — whose actual identity is not known —tends to growl at visitors. Grumpy is rumored to lurk in a room under the stairs near the first-class swimming pool, and sometimes joins John Henry in the boiler room. You can hear audio recordings of Grumpy growling here.
Captain Treasure Jones
Captain John Treasure Jones was the last captain of the active Queen Mary, sailing the ship from 1965 to 1967, and captaining her final voyage from Southampton to Long Beach. This earned him some serious credit in the maritime community, transforming him into a media figure following the vessel’s retirement. He died at age 87 in 1993. Jones was well-known on the ship for his affinity for cigars, and visitors sometimes still report smelling cigar smoke in the captain’s quarters.
There were 49 reported deaths on the Queen Mary during its time in service, one of which was that of John Pedder, otherwise known as “Half Hatch Harry.” The infamous door 13 located in the shaft alley crushed the 18-year-old crewman to death when he was playing chicken with another crewmember. Pedder is known to leave behind greasy handprints in areas where he roams. It remains one of the ship’s most popular attractions for ghost-hunters.
Easily the creepiest of the Queen Mary’s on-board deaths, legend has it that someone murdered a young woman named Dana and her family in room B-474. The killer strangled Dana’s little sister and mother on the bed, then shot Dana to death in the bathroom. Dana’s spirit can be found lurking with the other ghostly children in the second-class pool, and sometimes joins Grumpy and John Henry in the boiler room.
Want to learn more about this haunted American landmark? Make sure to pick up a copy of Ghosts of the Queen Mary from Arcadia Publishing to learn more chilling tales of this infamous ship.