QE2 visit launches waves of nostalgia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 1994, 12:00am

THE last time David and Stephanie Foxley were in the vicinity of the Queen Elizabeth 2, he was on board and she was on the quay crying her eyes out.

It was 12 years ago and David was sailing for the Falkland Islands with a contingent of 3,500 British serviceman on board the liner, which had been requisitioned to play the unfamiliar role of troop carrier as Britain went to war against Argentina.

So when the QE2 docked in Hong Kong, Keeping Posted accompanied the Foxleys as they went on board and took a trip down memory lane.

For David it was an ''eerie feeling'' walking through the narrow corridors.

''The carpets were all covered up to avoid being trampled over by army boots and the paintings and other artefacts had pretty well been removed,'' he explained as we walked around. ''But apart from that it all seems the same.

''The journey took four weeks and it was quite fun actually, even though we were always aware what we were going in to.

''In fact, our mood changed when we finally got to South Georgia, for while we were arriving in a grand ship, coming in the opposite direction were naval vessels with bullet holes all over their hulls. It was quite unnerving.'' David, who was seconded to Hong Kong some time after he returned from the war, retired recently with the rank of major and now works for a local firm of consultant engineers. Stephanie is a presenter with the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

But back in the Queen's Grill, David was exultant. ''I remember this place well for it was here that we were fed like kings. Most of the QE2's chefs were still on board, together with all their supplies, so they carried on just as if they were catering for fare paying passengers.

''We had to run many times around the deck to work off the fantastic food they were pumping into us.'' David's most lasting memory of the QE2? ''It was that the champagne ran out after two days,'' he uttered with a glancingly wounded look.

It was Napoleon who said that an army marches on its stomach. But we don't remember the old French warrior saying anything about champagne.