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SS AThenia, Glasgow to Montreal 1920's to 1930's-

PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 5:38 pm
by whitenee
Hello All,
I am wondering if anyone can help me find information/crew records/staff records etc for the SS AThenia, which was torpedoed on Sept.3, 1939, just off the coast of Ireland.

I know that all the logs and crew/staff, passenger records for the Athenia are located in London, and I have been able to get a copy of the ships logs for the year of 1929 (at considerable expense). My interest is in the actual journey of Sept.3/1939--I want to know who was working on the ship at the time, and any / all passengers. There are books covering this topic, but not a complete list.

My grandmother was from Glasgow, and her mother, Agnes Johnstone Simpson (first marriage name) MacFarlane worked on this ship as a stewardess at least until January 1929. I know this because I have pictures of her and staff from that voyage. What I don't know is how long after 1929 she continued to work on it, and if she was on this ship when it was torpedoed.

There must be some historical evidence about this ship in Glasgow because that was her home port, so to speak. If there is anyone who can direct me to this information, I would certainly be most grateful.

Thank you, whitenee

PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 10:37 pm
by Schiehallion
I have in my possession 2 original documents from the Athenia's last voyage, a tourist passenger list and a cabin passenger list. I had a male relative who served as a steward.

I also have a copy of The Irish Independent newspaper from 6th September 1939 which has a few pictures of the survivors arriving at Galway on the rescue ship, Knute Nelson. One of the pictures is of the Athenia's crew.

If you want to pm me with your e-mail address I can try to get a good scan of the stuff.

PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 12:27 pm
by Ronnie
The power of Hidden Glasgow!

SS Athenia passenger List

PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:53 am
by Bob M

I'm interested in obtaining a copy of the SS Athenia passenger lists for her final voyage.

I've sent you a pm about it.


a good site with all things SS Athenia including lists

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:52 am
by whitenee
Hello Bob,
It's been an age since I've had any feedback on the SS Athenia. I want to tell you about a site that has a slew of info about the Athenia--including passenger lists, articles, personal memoirs etc. it is

this is MacKenzie Gregor's site and it covers all vessels lost in wars. just go to the site, and at the top click on "search" and type in SS Athenia. There is also a forum on his site with very knowledgeable people willing to assist.

Good luck! I think the actual ship's log for the fateful day was never found. I haven't followed up on this in a while, but I've lately discovered that there is some material on the downing of this ship right here in Boston, at the John F. Kennedy library. My hope is to dig this up in the fall.

good luck!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:56 am
by Bob M

Thanks for that information. I thought I saw some similarities between your good self and one of the correspondents in the Ahoy Forum about the sinking of SS Athenia.

Mac Gregory is a friend of mine, and I am actually seeking the passenger lists on his behalf.

As part of his research about the SS Athenia's tragic last voyage he is trying to compile a list of survivors. Due to the survivors having been picked up by a variety of ships and subsequently disembarked at a number of ports, there was apparently never any consolidated list of survivors published.

Here is Mac Gregory's consolidated page about SS Athenia: ... sabou.html

I'm hoping that Schiehallion will assist me by providing some images of the passenger lists he or she has. From that, Mac Gregory will be able to deduct the list of those that perished to arrive at a passenger survivors' list which will be close to comprehensive. It is believed that some passengers may have journeyed without being listed.

Another avenue I am following up is via the City of Glasgow Archives, which is the repositry for the now defunct Donaldson Line's records. I belive that the ship owners would almost certainly have had a comprehensive list of passenger and crew survivors in their records.

You mention John F. Kennedy. It is true that he was despatched by his father, Joseph Kennedy then U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, to interview Athenia survivors. See this item from Time Magazine of September 18, 1939: ... rnalid=AFM

Whitnee, you and I are far from Glasgow, but I'm sure those in Glasgow will be interested to know that the Glasgow Transport Museum is going to mount an exhibition or display in 2009 about the SS Athenia. Here's the note about that on the Ahoy Forum from the curator Emily Malcolm: ... porte.html

I was going to mention this exhibition/display to Schiehallion when he or she got in contact with me, but now's a good a time as any. Those passenger lists sound like something the museum would like to get a look at and perhaps have on loan.

Mac has pointed out the surprising level of interest in the SS Athenia, and until I read about the sinking on his Ahoy! weblog I was ignorant of the historic significance of the ship.

A personal note: Mac Gregory and my father served at the same time during World War II aboardd HMAS Shropshire, one of the Royal Australian Navy's distinguised war fighting ships, although they did not know each other.

HMAS Shropshire (previously HMS Shropshire) was a gift from the people and government of Great Britain to the Australian Government to replace HMAS Canberra which had been sunk in the Battle of Savo Island. As it happens Mac Gregory was on HMAS Canberra when it was sunk and his tale of survival can be read here:

sorry for misspelling your name.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:58 am
by Bob M
whitenee, it should be of course.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:47 am
by Dugald
Whitenee, there was a fellow from Crossloan Rd., Govan, who was a steward on the Athenia and survived the sinking. His name is/was Freddie Collins. In the Guestbook part of the SunnyGovan website there is an entry by Freddie's sister, and it's possible she'll be able to provide some information. Good luck!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:50 am
by Schiehallion
Hi Bob

Aye I'll get scans of the lists to you. I might be able to get them done tonight when I get in from the football, otherwise definitely tomorrow night.

I'll need to get in touch with the Transport Museum about loaning the orginals.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:00 am
by whitenee
Hi Bob,
Isn't it funny how everyone knows Mac?? lol--he's awesome. The poor guy didn't know what he was getting into when I sent him my first query years back regarding the Athenia! just to help me find a great grandmother who may not even have been working on the ship when it went down! Mac is the best and the people on his forum, like the people here, have been awesome at filling in the blanks and solving some of the mysteries.

I am excited to know there will be a special display regarding the Athenia in 2009--it would be my dream to get to Glasgow to see this! I had no idea that the Glasgow Archives contained the Donaldson line records! I believe the researcher I had at one time found all of Athenia's logs in London, but I could be wrong. To think that the records I am looking for are in Glasgow, along with this 2009 display, really gives me an incentive to finally go and see Glasgow, a place I've never been.

You will receive those list from Sheillin(?) on this forum. I do believe he has already sent them to me, and I, being off the internet for quite a while due to time constraints, never passed them on to Mac at his site.

Dougald (?) *sorry if the spelling is wrong with your name and the above, but I don't have the posting in front of me while I respond*
thanks for the tip on Freddie Collins. I will have a look at the Govan guestbook to find out more. Maybe Freddie Collins' sister would do up a little memory that Mac could put on his site. I must say, he has lots of tidbits and personal stories not found anywhere else--all by people who were good enough to take the time so that the SS Athenia will never be forgotten.

For my part, I will stick close to home and have a look at the Time's article that you mention, Bob, and as soon as school resumes for the kiddos, get myself up to the JFK library to dig up the personal interviews. I can't believe these records were literally sitting across the harbor from where I once lived, and shame on me, being a Bostonian, for never having visited the JFK museum in all of these years!

Bob, I don't know if I've scanned and sent all of the photos I have of the Athenia and candid shots of different crews working with my gr-grandmother. I wonder if the Transport museum would have any interest in them, eventhough they are not from that particular voyage of 1939?
It seems kind of right and fitting that this one ship, my only clue in the puzzle of solving my Scottish ancestry questions, will now be getting the recognition and attention it deserves.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:22 pm
by Dugald
Whitenee, i checked out the sister of Fred Collins who survived the sinking of the Athenia. Unfortunately she provides no address. The message she posted on the Sunny Govan site is as follows:

What is your name? Betty Collins (Bruce)
Where are you from? Elder Street Govan.
How did you find us? Friend
Do you have any comments?

Would like to hear from any old friends who knew iether me or my husband Fred, he lived at Crossloan Road. Thank you, this is great[/i].

As you can see, Betty is not the sister, but the wife. I guess if you wish to pursue this route all you can do is post a message on the Sunny Govan site... i'm sure you will find them very heplful in finding Betty of Freddie.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:34 am
by whitenee
Thanks for the information Dugald! do you happen to have the Govan website addy? I'll take a look and maybe folow up posting.

*I have the oddest feeling that between now and the exhibit in 2009 that I will find that there are still members of my grandmother's family still alive and well and living in Glasgow* -- call it a hunch

Bob M, I meant to coment in my last post about the story of your Dad and Mac being shipmates. isn't it a small world online? You must get such satisfaction in getting all the details from Mac's first hand accounts. What a stroke of luck that you ran across him and his site!

I sent a email off to the woman seeking information on the Athenia for the GLasgow Transport Museum. She may have no interest in the photos of Athenia and crew since they are not from 1939, but I offered them to her anyway.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:54 am
by Dugald
Whitenee, the address of the Sunny Govan site you requested is: ... ch/704344/

The message posted by the wife of Freddie Collins was dated Jan 25 2003.
Good luck again!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:19 am
by whitenee
Dugald, thanks for your help! I posted a message for the Betty Collins yesterday on the Sunny Govan site.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 10:08 pm
by Schiehallion
Bob M wrote:I'm hoping that Schiehallion will assist me by providing some images of the passenger lists he or she has. From that, Mac Gregory will be able to deduct the list of those that perished to arrive at a passenger survivors' list which will be close to comprehensive. It is believed that some passengers may have journeyed without being listed.

Bob, sorry for the delay, things have been a bit hectic. Finally got the lists scanned although they would appear not to be comprehensive. The lists are only for cabin and tourist class, not third class. There are about 300 odd people in total, could it be these lists only pertain to those who boarded at Glasgow as opposed to Liverpool and Belfast? Both lists are headed "Glasgow to Quebec & Montreal (via Belfast & Liverpool)"

Are you still interested?