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SS Athenia in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- SS Athenia during the Second World War -

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SS Athenia

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have sailed in

SS Athenia

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Baird Hannah. Stewardess (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Bowen C. O.. (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Carlin James. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Copeland Barney. Chief Officer
  • Donnelly Ian. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Donnelly John. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Elder James. Donkeyman (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Fordyce Charles. Watchman (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Gallagher Hugh. Greaser (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Gunyon Phillip.
  • Harrower Alison. Stewardess (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Hogg John. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Hogg Margaret. (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Johnston Margaret. Stewardess (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Kent John. Asst.Steward
  • Lawler Jessie. Stewardess (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • MacCuaig Alexander.
  • Marshall James. Bellboy (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • McDermott Michael J.. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • McJarrow John. Printer (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • McKenzie Lewis Hynd. Purser
  • McKeowen John. Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Mitchell James. Ship's Carpenter
  • Morrison David. Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Morrison David. SD (d.3rd Sept 1939)
  • O'Keefe John Joseph. Cook (d.4th Sep 1939)
  • Provan David. Barber (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Ritchie Thomas McKenna. Gnr.
  • Scott . Mrs.
  • Scott H. J..
  • Scott Julia W..
  • Scott Mary. (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Stewart Betty Jane.
  • Thomson Samuel. Asst.Steward (d.3rd Sep 1939)
  • Trowbridge Harry. C.P.O.
  • Wilson Barbara Rodman.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Watchman Charles Fordyce SS. Athenia (d.3rd Sep 1939)

Charles was 65 years old, he was serving aboard the Athenia when she was sunk. He was the husband of Mary Penelope Fordyce and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, in Trinity Square Garden, London.

Margaret Hogg passenger SS. Athenia (d.3rd Sep 1939)

Origionally from Edinburgh Scotland, Margaret Hogg, aged 52 was a passenger on the SS Athenia when she was sunk.

Julia W. Scott passenger SS. Athenia

Julia was travelling with her family on the SS Athenia when she was sunk

C.P.O. Harry Trowbridge HMS Electra

My Uncle was Acting Stoker, P.O., Harry Trowbridge, he served on board HMS Electra, and I have a small HMS Electra ID. booklet showing his name, rating, part of ship, Mess No. and religion.

Following the sinking of the Electra, my Aunt was extremely concerned for his wellbeing and wrote to the Admiralty requesting information on the 25th of March 1942. A reply was received in April 1942 stating that my Uncle was confirmed as a survivor from HMS Electra and had been landed at Fremantle, Australia.

Following that my Uncle was “loaned” to the Australian Navy and in July 1942 my Aunt wrote to the Admiralty to enquire of the exact position. In September 1942 she received a letter from the Admiralty confirming that my Uncle was “on loan” to the Australian Navy but that his case and the cases of other ratings similarly placed, necessitated enquiries being made of the Australian Naval Authorities.

I have a postcard with a photograph of a ship set in the outline of Australia – it looks like a destroyer and has the number J186 printed on its side. I believe my Uncle stayed with the Australian Navy for approximately 2 years.

I am pleased to say that my Uncle continued to serve the British Navy until the end of the War. I have a photograph of him when he served on HMS Royal Oak and he also served on HMS Foxhound and T.S.S. Athenia sunk by a German submarine on 3rd of September, 1939.

Mrs C Allington

Cook John Joseph O'Keefe Cook RMS Athenia (d.4th Sep 1939)

My maternal Grandad John Joseph O'Keefe was the ship's cook onboard the fated Athenia, the 1st ship to be torpedoed in the 2nd World War. His name is on the Cenotaph in our local park in Helensburgh, Hermitage Park, although my Nanny, Mary O'Keefe was never given a war widows pension. He didnt die straight away but did die eventually as a result of his injuries sustained during the attack. He was landed at Galway and spent several months in hospital. A lot of his injuries were burns due to the stock pot pouring over him during the blasts.

He left behind his wife Mary and 6 children, Margaret, Rose, Frances (my Mum), Mary, Effie and his only son, John.

I would love to have any other information that anyone may have about the crew and survivors. Many thanks.

Carolann Cameron

Alexander MacCuaig SS Athenia

My Grandfather, Alexander MacCuaig, born on Islay in 1883, was a member of the crew on SS Athenia when she was sunk on 3 September 1939. I believe he worked in the engine room as a Stoker. My own mother, born in 1936, had a "skull cap" when she was born, a thin extra layer of skin, which apparently sailors think is a lucky omen. My grandfather took this to sea with him. Thankfully he survived and lived until the ripe old age of 92.

Douglas Gray

Barbara Rodman Wilson

Barbara Rodman, then 22, survived the sinking of the SS Athenia. She was a 3rd class passenger en route to Montreal when the ship was torpedoed. At 97, she is still alive and has a sharp memory. She lives in Garden City, NY. March 3, 2011)

John Manbeck

Gnr. Thomas McKenna Ritchie HMS Biter

My father, Thomas Ritchie and grandfather Colin Ritchie, were both crewmen on S.S. Athenia when she was torpedoed September 3rd 1939. My father subsequently served on HMS Biter and other various ships. My Grandfather served in the First World War, I think in the Argyll & Sutherland Reg. He did not talk too much about what happened, but I think he was captured at some time by the Germans.

Alistair Ritchie

SD David Morrison (d.3rd Sept 1939)

David Morrison (son of Peter Young Morrison and Rosina Scullion) was a Glaswegian steward on the SS Athenia, the first ship to be sunk after the declaration of the Second World War. This was pegged by the Scottish papers as Scotland's Lucitania.

Some months after the ship was sunk, a surviving crew member approached his mother, Rosina and told her that David had made it off the ship and was in a life boat with a number of other stewards.

He relayed a rather gruesome story that he had seen the life boat struck by the prop of a Norweigian boat called the Knut Nelson who had answered the distress call and was the first rescue boat on the scene. He said they had been trying to help but struck the life boat by accident, killing all the occupants. This appears to have been covered up at the time, but this person told Rosina (my great great grandmother) on their return to Glasgow that most of the people who had been killed in the disaster had been on the life boat the Norwegian ship had struck and not killed by the German uboat who had torpedoed the Athenia (though some undoubtedly were, mostly below decks near the engine room). The number of stewards on the list of the dead, seems to be circumstantial evidence of this, as they would have been amongst the last off the Athenia, after the passengers, and it is quite possible they woud have shared a life boat.

Unfortunately, the story has been relayed down 4 generations now, and the name of the crew member, who was kind enough to visit our family has been forgotten. Never the less, it was likely of some comfort to Rosina to know exactly had happened, since the official story seems to have been somewhat corrupted by the need for a propaganda win. After the sinking, Hitler declared that civillian shipping was not to be targeted (aye right, as David would no doubt have said!) in an attempt to pacify the outrage expressed most strongly by America, who had many citizens on board trying to escape the war in europe.


Purser Lewis Hynd McKenzie HMS Athenia

My late father-in-law's brother Lewis McKenzie was a purser on board the SS Athenia. He survived the war. He was probably born in Stenhousemuir, Scotland. I have very little information on him, and would appreciate any help.

Jane Simons-Brown

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