Remembering Athenia


Passenger Casualties

I have transcribed the names of the passengers that lost their lives on Athenia into the table below to help anyone searching for information about relatives as images of newspaper cuttings are not searchable by search engines.

Name Nationality Last Abode Other Information
William Allan British Northfield, Queen Street, Alloa
Georgina Allan British West Croydon Age 51, Domestic
Harriet Barrington British Sandfield Road, Gateacre, Liverpool Age 52, Housewife
John Bernard U.S Age 23, Student
Peter Birchall US Hawberry Street Bedford Age 49, Librarian
Nancy Bishop British C/O T. Eaton Company, Regent Street London Age 36, Housewife
Frederick Blair British Savoy Court Hotel, Portman Square, London Age 60, Musician, born Chatham Ontario
Herbert Bown U.S. Faireview Road, Dartmouth Age 79, Retired, born Birmingham England
Henry Braunschneiger German C/O Cunard White Star, Liverpool Age 33, Lawyer
Elizabeth Brookes British C/O Scott, Highholm Street, Port Glasgow Age 60, Widow
William Brown U.S C/O McMorland, Belmont, Barrhill Road, Gourock Age 60, Teacher, born Scotland
Sarah Burdett U.S. Broughton Astley, Nr Leicester Age 51, Housewife
Helen Burrows British C/O Coleman, York Lodge, Antrim Age 50, Housewife
E. Campbell U.S. Ederston Road, Peebles Age 37, Teacher
Helen Chalmers British Restalrig Circus, Edinburgh Age 46, Table Maid
Isabella Chalmers British Restalrig Circus, Edinburgh Age 51, Nurse
Ina May Duncan British C/O Davidson, Craighill Terrace, Edinburgh Age 30, Nurse
Hildegarde Ehrlich German
Arthur Fisher U.S C/O R. Hancock, Tunbridge Wells Age 16
Mrs. A.B. Fletcher British Kildare Terrace, Bayswater, London
Helen Flower British Cromer Villas Road, Wandsworth, London Age 45, Housewife
Alexandrina Forbes British Frederick Street, Aberdeen Age 52, Housewife
Muriel Fraser British Cockspur Street, London Age 54, Secretary
Anna Gacii (possibly Gach) Polish Age 13, Schoolgirl
Cora Gilroy U.S Lockend Road, Leith Age 41, Housewife
John Gilroy U.S Lockend Road, Leith Age 7, born Detroit Michigan
Martha Goddard British Oldham Road, Manchester Age 52, Housewife
Sarah Goodman British Northfield Road, London N Age 31, Secretary
Nellie Graham British Collier Street, Carnoustie Age 34, Housewife
George Graham British Collier Street, Carnoustie Age 2½
Helen Hannah U.S Berebriggs, Strathaven Age 37, Housewife
Sara B. Harper N/K Belfast Age 66, Housewife
Robert Harper N/K Willowholme Drive, Belfast Possibly not a casualty as not on the official passenger list from Donalson Line
Ellen Harrington U.S C/O Cunard White Star Limited, Liverpool Age 63, Housewife
Robert Harris U.S York Buildings, Adelphi, London Age 21
James Haslet British Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire Age 41, Butler
Margaret Haslet British Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire Age 38, Housemaid
Albert Hart British C/O Miss A Hart, University Avenue, Belfast Age 60, Accountant
Margaret Hayworth British Primrose Hill Drive, Aberdeen Age 9, Schoolgirl, born Hamilton Ontario
Margaret Hogg British C/O Tough, Dundee Terrace, Edinburgh Age 52, Housewife
Mary Hodge British C/O Thos. Cook and Sons, Glasgow Age 49, Widow
Jean Gwen Holmes British Inverskip Street, Greenock Age 6, Schoolgirl, born Winnepeg
Ellen Howland U.S C/O Raymond Whitcombe and Co, London SW Age 65
Dorothy Hutchings British Peel Street Glasgow Age 39, Teacher
George Innes British C/O Stewart, Glenmackie Terrace, Dundee Age 41, Advertising Executive
Matilda Jacobs British English Street, Shieldmuir, Wishaw Age 24, Housewife
Emily James British C/O E. Pullen, Preston Park Avenue, Brighton Age 38
Lottie Kunstlicher German Great Russell Street, London Interpreter
Eudokia Kucharczuk Polish Age 40, Housewife
Aleksandra Kucharczuk Polish Age 8
Jakeb Kucharczuk Polish Age 2
Stefan Kucharczuk Polish Age 15
Margaret Lennon British Newall Terrace, Dumfries Age 57, Housewife
Catherine Leslie British C/O Preshaw, Chancellor Street, Glasgow Age 69, Widow
Artur Lourie Polish C/O Regent Street London Age 35, Merchant
Edith Lustig German C/O Great Russell Street, London Age 27, Housewife
Charles Mailer British Wilson Street, Craigie, Perth Age 69
Lucy Marston British Ely View, Houghton Road, St Ives Age 53, Housewife
Thornton Mustard British Dudley Arms Hotel, Dudley Age 47
Sophie McDonald British C/O Dawson, Sankey Street, Warrington Age 78
Bridget McErlean U.S Moneystaghan, Portglenone, Co. Antrim Age 38, Domestic
Agnes McFarlane British Curwood Street, Greenock Age 43, Housewife
Gladys McFarlane British Curwood Street, Greenock Age 3, born Verdun P.Q.
Ray McFarlane U.S C/O Macfarlane, Cathkin Avenue, Rutherglen Age 19, Student
Margaret McGorty U.S Milltown Birches, Portadown, Co. Armagh Age 7
Jean C McNeish British Glebe Road, Letchworth, Herts or Clochview, Kirn Age 69, Widow
Alexander Nicol U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh Age 40, Receiving Clerk
Edith Nicol U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh Age 33, Housewife
Marion Nicol U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh Age 9, born Lawrence Mass
Alexander Park U.S C/O McAleer, Omagh, Co.Tyrone Age 49
Annie Quine U.S Marsh Lane, Halsall Age 57, Housewife
Nancy Redgers British Tredegar Street, Risca, Mon Age 16
Gertrude Reed U.S C/O Stewart, Stubbs Road, Chertsey Age 58, Housewife
Alice Robinson U.S C/O Mr Home, Little King Street, Edinburgh Age 44, Housewife
Mary Scott British C/O Mr J Scott, James Street, Edinburgh Age 31, Housekeeper
Jessie Sharp British C/O Williamson Limited, Frederick Street Edinburgh Age 45, Housewife
Fejga Spring Polish Age 32
Emma Steele British C/O Canada House London Age 49, Librarian
Anna Stewart British
F. Stotland Stateless Age 13
Rebekka Stotland Stateless
Fred Tinney U.S C/O Robinson, Graham Street, Johnstone Age 30
Madeleine Tinney U.S C/O Robinson, Graham Street, Johnstone Age 27, Housewife
Hariet Tolley British Tyran Avenue, Llancily Age 74
Harry Truss British Fleet, Holbeach Age 54
Ethel Truss British Fleet, Holbeach Age 52, Housewife
A.H.Vincent British C/O Thomas Cook and Son Newcastle
Sara Warenreich U.S c/O Kingsley, Miens Road Blackburn Age 39, Cook, born Vienna
Anne Waterman British C/O C.W.S. Limited, London Age 52
Fred Weir British C/O Watson, Lochend Road, Leith Age 61
Matilda Wilkes U.S C/O American Express Company, Glasgow Housewife
Jonathan Wilkes U.S C/O American Express Company, Glasgow Age 8
David Wright U.S Killshannagh, Co. Tyrone Age 63, Laundry Manager
Jessie Young British Wilson Street, Craigie, Perth

Passenger Memorials

Robert Shenton Harris

I am grateful to Bill Zimmerman of Norfolk Virginia who contacted me about one of the lost passengers, Robert Shenton Harris from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Robert was an American student returning home via Canada when Athenia was lost. He may well be one of the first US Casualties of the war.

Memorial to Robert Shenton Harris at Fredericksburg Virginia. [1]
Margaret Hayworth

I found details about Margaret Hayworth in an article in The Hamilton Spectator from 15 September 2016. Margaret was a passenger on Athenia along with her mother Georgina and sister Jacqueline. A transcription of the article follows:

Seventy-seven years ago Thursday, more than 1,000 people jammed the area around the Canadian National Railway Station to catch a glimpse of a small casket carrying the remains of a 10-year-old girl. Margaret Hayworth was among the first Canadian fatalities of the Second World War and Hamilton was reeling in grief over her death. She was knocked unconscious by flying debris when the passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed and sunk in the North Atlantic on Sept. 3, 1939. She died six days later. Her body was transported by ship to Halifax and then by train to the station on James Street North.

After a packed public service at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Hamilton the next day that saw hundreds of mourners lining the streets, a bronze plaque was prominently displayed at the church to remember the young girl whose death led to "the first funeral in Canada of the 2nd Great War." But the plaque went missing after St. Andrew's closed in the early 1980s. That was until this summer when it resurfaced in a basement at a Presbyterian Church facility in Toronto. And on Sept. 25 it will be rededicated at Knox Presbyterian on Elizabeth Street in Burlington in a ceremony for parishioners.

Margaret's sister, Jacqueline Hayworth Bullock, 82, of Burlington, says she is elated that the memorial has been recovered. "It shouldn't have been sitting in a basement where no one could see it," said Bullock, who was also on the Athenia with her mom when it was torpedoed. Neither was injured. "It should be hanging somewhere. Since my father was an elder at Knox Presbyterian in Burlington and my sister went to Sunday school there, it was a logical place for it."

The plaque was recovered due to the efforts of Knox parishioner and local history book publisher Gary Evans. He came to know of the plaque from a 2005 book he published called "Hamilton at War" by Margaret Houghton that "made mention of the plaque, and said it was hanging in the Presbyterian Church archives in Toronto." Evans felt the plaque should be moved to Knox because of the family's connection to the church. So he set out to find it. "I contacted the museum, and the national Presbyterian Church archives, but no one knew of its existence," he said. He also contacted Bullock who told him the family had also tried to recover the plaque from the archives without success.

But Evans persisted, and over the years convinced officials with the church to take a harder look. Then finally in June the artifact was located. Evans contacted the family about the discovery and drove to Toronto where it was handed over to him in a very dirty state. He cleaned it up for the official unveiling next week. Bullock said she still vividly remembers the torpedo attack all those years ago even though she was only five years old and had no idea about the world tumbling into war at the time. The family had spent the summer in Scotland, visiting relatives. Father John had already returned to Canada on another ship and on Sept. 1 mother Georgina with her two daughters set out for home on the Athenia. Two days into the voyage, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany and it was on that evening that the German submarine struck in the North Atlantic, more than 320 kilometres west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. "It was after dinner, around 7 o'clock and it was just starting to get dark and kids were playing on deck and the mothers were sitting on the chairs and all of a sudden there was a thud, an explosion. The boat shook and tilted and everybody started running around and yelling for life-jackets. "I didn't know what was going on. My mom ran around with us trying to find life-jackets. I remember a sailor putting one on me."

Jacqueline got separated from her mother and sister and was scooped onto a different life boat that in turn met up with a rescue ship. She ended up in Scotland, staying with relatives and did not meet up with her parents in Canada until a couple of months later. She said it was many months after that she finally learned her sister had died. "Nobody told me about my sister. I guess they thought I was too young to understand. I heard from other kids. My mother would never talk about it. I guess she felt it was because she wanted to stay longer in Scotland that we ended up on the Athenia."

As an adult, she learned details from her father as well as from newspaper stories and books that she collected. Looking back on it now, she feels, the massive public funeral in Hamilton "was political. My family didn't want a big funeral. They just wanted family and friends. It was pushed on them. War had started and all these bigwigs came and they filled the papers with the story about my sister. "I can't understand why they singled out a child to try to pump up the world."
Margaret Hayworth
Margaret Hayworth on the left and Jacqueline on the right - from The Hamilton Spectator 15 September 2016 [55]
Margaret Hayworth
Margaret Hayworth's gravestone at Woodland Cemetery Hamilton - from The Hamilton Spectator 15 September 2016 [55]
Margaret Hayworth
The missing commemorative plaque - from The Hamilton Spectator 15 September 2016 [55]
Annie Quine

I am grateful to Paul Charlesworth who contacted me after coming across the gravestone of Annie Quine at Halsall in Lancashire and located the cuttings from the Ormskirk Advertiser shown on this website.

Athenia Athenia
Memorial to Annie Quine at Hallsall [2]
Helen Burrows

I am grateful to Phil Gunyon for the additional information about Helen Burrows and photos from St. James Churck Orillia, Ontario. Phil was a survivor from Athenia and his account can be found on the website HERE.

In a note to me Phil said:

There are 2 photos of the memorial plaque in St. James Anglican church in Orillia, Ontario, just a half-hour’s drive south of our home in Bracebridge. I've added two interior photos of St. James' and one exterior one. I happened to be at this church in March 2007 and during the lunch break I wandered around the interior looking at the wall plaques. I came to the Memorial Chapel and the first name I saw was that of Helen Burrows, 'killed when S.S. Athenia was torpedoed'. You can imagine how I was taken aback, having also been on the ship when she was torpedoed. The date of 4th September puzzled me as the liner was torpedoed on 3rd September. I later realized that being in the lifeboat that was capsized while alongside the City of Flint, it was indeed on the 4th when Helen died. This is confirmed by the CWGC website.
Helen Burrows
Memorial plaque at St. James church Orillia Ontario [54]
Helen Burrows Helen Burrows Helen Burrows
St. James church Orillia Ontario [54]

Merchant Navy

There has never been a definitive list of the members of the crew onboard Athenia when she was attacked. Various versions of the crew list have been published but none of them are completely convincing.

Ronnie MacLean of Yell in Shetland has spent a great deal of time researching this and has kindly provided his analysis of the crew, their roles and whether they survived taking into account the various sources of information. It can be viewed from the link HERE [65].

Merchant Navy Casualties

Nineteen members of the Merchant Navy were killed in the incident as detailed in the Roll of Honour below. Information is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Forenames Surname D.O.D Rank Service Country Cemetery/ Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Hannah Baird 03/09/1939 Stewardess Canadian Merchant Navy Canada Halifax Memorial Panel 17.
James Carlin 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 56
Ian Donnelly 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 26
John Donnelly 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 23
James Elder 03/09/1939 Donkeyman Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 45. Husband of Mary Elder of Cambuslang Lanarkshire.
Charles Fordyce 03/09/1939 Watchman Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 65. Son of George and Jessie Fordyce; husband of Mary Penelope Fordyce.
Hugh Gallagher 03/09/1939 Greaser Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 23. Son of Thomas Gallagher and of Isabel Gallagher of Glasgow.
Alison Harrower 03/09/1939 Stewardess Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 41. Daughter of William and Hannah Foster Denny Harrower.
John Hogg 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 51. Husband of Sarah A. Hogg of Brantford Ontario Canada.
Margaret Johnston 03/09/1939 Stewardess Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 41. Daughter of James and Christina Johnston of Glasgow.
John Kent 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 50. Husband of Jessie Darroch Kent of Bridgeton Glasgow.
Jessie 60 03/09/1939 Stewardess Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 60. Wife of Patrick Lawler of Sholing Southampton.
James Marshall 03/09/1939 Bellboy Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 15
David Morrison 03/09/1939 Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 32
Michael J. McDermott 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 33
John McJarrow 03/09/1939 Printer Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 39
John McKeown 03/09/1939 Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 47. Husband of M. E. McKeown of Dunoon Argyllshire.
David Provan 03/09/1939 Barber Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 65. Son of Alec and Margaret Provan; husband of Martha Provan of Glasgow.
Samuel Thomson 03/09/1939 Assistant Steward Merchant Navy United Kingdom Tower Hill Memorial Panel 12. Age 45. Husband of Julia McCafferty Thomson. of Glasgow.

Merchant Navy Memorials

The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill

Eighteen of the crew members who lost their lives on Athenia are commemorated on the memorial at Tower Hill to those 'who have no grave but the sea'.

Athenia Athenia
Photos of the panels commemorating the loss of Athenia seamen on the Merchant Navy memorial at Tower Hill. [5]
The Halifax Memorial

Stewardess Hannah Baird is commemorated on a Memorial at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The memorial at Point Pleasant Park commemorates Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Navy losses in WW2. Twenty-four ships were lost and nearly 2,000 members of the RCN lost their lives. The Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was unveiled in November 1967 with naval ceremony by H.P. MacKeen, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, in the presence of R. Teillet, then Minister of Veterans Affairs. The monument is a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over 12 metres high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax. The cross is mounted on a large podium bearing 23 bronze panels upon which are inscribed the names of over 3,000 Canadian men and women who were buried at sea. On June 19, 2003, the Government of Canada designated September 3rd of each year as a day to acknowledge the contribution of Merchant Navy Veterans.

Halifax Memorial
Panel from the Halifax Memorial showing Hannah Baird [56]
Veteran's Park

Hannah Baird is also commemorated on a memorial plaque affixed to a new eight sided old-fashioned bandstand in Veteran's Park in Langford, British Columbia. The plaque was unveiled by ex-merchant mariner Tom Osborne and Barbara Duncan on May 19, 2002 as a bugler sounded Reveille. It is believed to be the first war memorial anywhere in the world dedicated to women merchant mariners who died at their posts in the two world wars.

Veteran's Park Memorial
Commemorative plaque to Canadian women of the Merchant Navy at the Veteran's Park Langford [57]


The Glasgow Museum of Transport

The Glasgow Museum of Transport housed at the Riverside Museum at Pointside Quay has an excellent model of Athenia and various memorabilia. They are not easy to photograph but I have done my best with them.

Athenia Athenia Athenia Athenia Athenia
Photos of the model of Athenia at the Glasgow Museum of Transport. [32]
Seaman's discharge books belonging to James McConnell (1918-1963). James was an engineer aboard Athenia when she was sunk. He survived and worked at sea until the 1960s. [32]
Photo of the cooks from Athenia taken in March 1928 [32]
Photo of the discharge books of Charles Simpson who was third cook on Athenia when she was torpedoed. He saw his colleagues scalded by steam and burned by hot oil when the torpedo hit the ship. [32]
Photo of the keys that opened Athenia's silver room where the silver tableware was kept. The keys came back to Glasgow but the silver itself is at the bottom of the Atlantic with the ship. [32]
Photo of a selection of typical souvenirs available for sale to transatlantic passengers on board Athenia. They are a cap-shaped souvenir from 1932, salt and pepper shakers with the Athenia crest from the 1920s-1930s and an Athenia tea strainer purchased in 1935. [32]

Ongoing Interest in Athenia

The sinking of Athenia continues to be of interest and I often receive messages from relatives of passengers about what happened.

80th Anniversary Reunion of Survivors

In 2019 Phil Gunyon, a survivor who has contributed significantly to the construction of the Athenia section of this website, organised a reunion event for survivors which was held in Halifax Nova Scotia at the Marriott Harbourfront Hotel and the Small Craft Gallery of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. It was attended by 9 survivors: Phil, his sister Barbara Gunyon, Vivian (Hunt) Collyer, Heather (Donald) Watts, George "Scott" Calder, Cynthia (Hunt) Gustafson, Geoff Etherington, Margaret (Ferguson) Desanti and Jacqueline (Hayworth) Bullock. The short video below from CBC/Radio-Canada was taken at this event.

Group photo taken at the reunion [71]
Heather Watts (right) at the 80th reunion [70]

Research Prompted by Family Connection

Ronnie MacLean, whose father William Alvin MacLean served briefly on Athenia, has also taken a keen interest in the sinking and has provided the best crew list available to date which is linked from this page. He is working on producing a better passenger list. He wrote an article about the sinking for the Shetland Times which was published on 26 June 2020 which is reproduced below. [67]

Shetland Times
Article from Shetland Times 26 Jun 2020 [67]
Click image for enlarged view

Discovery of Wreck

On 5 October 2017 it was reported that wreck hunter David Mearns believed he had located the wreck of Athenia at a depth of 650 feet but this has yet to be confirmed. There is a BBC News article about this HERE and a copy of the sonar image published below. As of August 2020 I can find no further information about the discovery and personally hope the wreck will be left undisturbed in honour of those that lost their lives.

Athenia wreck
Sonar image of what is believed to be the wreck of Athenia. [68]