Sydney was buzzing with the arrival of Cunard’s two regal queens, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, on February 22, although few may have realised the historical significance of the occasion.

On April 9, 1941, during World War II, Queen Mary and the original Queen Elizabeth rendezvoused at Sydney Heads – each were painted in an inconspicuous grey and, inside, they had been converted to troopships to carry thousands of soldiers, airmen and nurses to wartime campaigns around the world.

While Queen Mary 2 was berthed at Garden Island during her most recent stay, Cunard hosted a lunch and remembrance service to honour Australia’s war veterans who sailed on these ships 70 years ago.

A special attendee honoured at the service was 92-year-old Brisbane man Cyril Burcher, a former RAAF pilot who prevented a U-Boat from attacking Queen Mary in the North Atlantic in June 1943.

Speaking at the onboard event in Sydney, Carnival Australia’s CEO, Ann Sherry, praised Australia’s war veterans.

“Being onboard Queen Mary 2 today was an opportunity to rekindle memories of their youth and a chance for us to thank them for their service on behalf of the nation,” Sherry said.