The passenger liner Athenia was torpedoed on 3 September 1939 - the very day that France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. No warning was given and the submarine took no action to help the surviving passengers. There was international outrage as this kind of attack breached International agreements about submarine warfare. The Nazis denied responsibility and blamed Churchill - not that anyone believed them; the full truth only emerged during the Nuremberg Trials of major war criminals that took place in 1945-6.

In telling the story I have used contemporary press cuttings and witness statements to present a picture of what ordinary people would have known at the time. I also have included detailed information about the preparation for the International War Crimes Tribunal and evidence of the fate of Athenia from the trial transcripts. Since this part of my website went live in 2010 I have been contacted by many people who have contributed additional information and 'Survivor Accounts' - some of which are very sad.

I suggest you view the various pages in order starting with a quick look at the Content Overview. Follow the links at the bottom of each page to move forward. Or you can navigate using the menu which includes links to other sections of the Benjidog site, a feedback page, a visitors book site search facilities.

What's New?

  • 31 August 2020: Modifications to improve the visibility of tables on hand-held devices, improved crew list and deck plans and addition of a photos and a video of an 80th anniversary re-union of survivors.
  • 26 March 2021: Updated crew list and new item about a survivor.
  • 2 April 2021: Complete update with additional information about passengers and crew, more first hand accounts, more about the 80th anniversary 'Survivors Reunion' and general style improvements.
  • 4 December 2022: Style standardised and refreshed and minor errors corrected.
  • 9 February 2023: Site restructured to improve display of tables and for the use of handheld devices.
  • 2 April 2023: New page including Ship's manifest. Additional reports, letters and press cuttings from the National Archives added.
  • 9 February 2024: Style refresh and minor corrections to text

Brian Watson
9 February 2024

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