Mystery on Board the Windsor Castle

report from 'Daily Express" dated
18 March 1961
Express Staff Reporter
Arthur Smith

 

A fully fashioned phantom cabin for two aboard the 38,000-ton liner windsor castle flagship of the union-castle fleet. Thatwas the story which buzzed over the galley telegraph as the lilac-hulled liner, crowded with passengers for Britain, prepared to sail from Cape Town.

Thirteen days and 7,000 miles later, at Southampton, the story was still told confidently.

More than half the crew had heard about it when the windsor castle crossed the equator.

By the time she tied up at Southampton yesterday (17 March 1961) hardly a man was left who did not believe that a mysterious, unknown cabin had been discovered on the homeward voyage.

Dirty glass

This is the strange story they told:

A ship's officer on a routine inspection of the liner from the quay in cape town noticed a porthole with very dirty glass.

He went aboard to trace the steward who had failed to clean the glass, but there was no sign of either the steward or the cabin!

An able seaman was lowered over the side on a rope to to look into the cabin. When he was hauled on deck again he reported excitedly that through the dust and cob webs he had espied a double cabin complete with bunks, washbasin, chest of draws - but no door!

As the ship sailed for England the hunt was on for the cabin without a door.

And after a process of tapping against bulkheads and partitions, the cabin was found in the crew's sleeping quarters on D Deck for'ard.

Fixed firmly over the door was a shiny wall of plastic covering matching that used in many parts of the ship.

A hole was cut and there was revealed the cabin which had never been used.

Nonsense

But at Southampton yesterday no one could say exactly where the mysterious cabin was. Men on D Deck said they had been assured on the most relaible authority that it was for'ard on the next deck up.

And there....well they had heard that it was definitely down on D Deck.

Captain John Oakley, master of the Windsor Castle, threw back his head and laughed heartily when asked about his phantom cabin.

"It is absolutely the first thing I have heard of it." He said. "It is complete nonesense - just a shipboard rumor or a big leg pull."

But in the town the sailors were realting to wives and friends the full details of the odd story of the phantom cabin.



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