Athenia Memoir by Judith Evelyn

Page 1

It was a week end in late August 1939, when we noticed by the Sunday papers that there seemed to be something amiss in the negotiations between Russia and Britain... Read the article.

Page 2

That night...went to see the "Gate Review" in a last vain attempt to raise our spirits. It was useless... Read the article.

Page  3

About this time the American Consulate announced that, because of the gravity of the situation, all Americans were peremptorily advised that they must leave Britain as soon as possible... Read the article.

Page 4

...he intended to wait for his original sailing on the "Athenia" Read the article.

Page 5

...we found it impossible to find transportation to the boat as all taxis, street cars and other conveyances were in use... Read the article.

Page 6

A great many boats were anchored in the Clyde and were in process of being painted battle-ship grey. Read the article.

Page 7

About four o'clock Saturday afternoon we weighted anchor and left Liverpool. The ship was alive with rumours. Read the article.

Page 8

On Sunday, September the thrid, at noon, a woman stopped me suddenly and clutching my arm said, "Have you hear? War has been declared." Read the article.

Page 9

"If all goes well, we should be in sight of Canada by Thursday. We are making excellent time." Read the article.

Page 10

The steward was away on the business of our order, when suddenly there was a violent explosion. Read the article.

Page 11

It was in this corridor that I first heard voices in panic, mothers calling to children who had been put to bed, groping their way in darkness to children who had no notion of disaster... Read the article.

Page 12

When we were assembled at our proper boat station, it was obvious that it would be a considerable time before we were able to get into a life-boat... Read the article.

Page 13

...I remember the Reverend Mr. Allan saying "What a waste!" I answered "Yes isn't it?" Those were the last words I heard him utter and the last reply I ever made to him. Read the article.

Page 14

The going down was very difficult and we were grossly over-burdened but we bumped and skidded down the side of the ATHENIa and finally reached the water. Read the article.

Page 15

We had no seamen, only the ship's barger and these two stewards and someone they called the quartermaster and made and attempt to take charge... Read the article.

Page 16

I sat for nearly two hours leaning my weight on one of the heavy oars while the man on my left pulled until he was practically exhausted. Read the article.

Page 17

We must have been some five and a half hours on the high seas before the first rescue ship came into view. Read the article.

Page 18

I hardly realized what was happening, but I felt about four people clutch at me and then was conscious of hearing someone say "Trust your life belts." Read the article.

Page 19

I gave myself another lurch and at this moment I felt finger touching mine across wat turned out to be a portion of our upturned life boat. Read the article.

Page 20

In this short space of time, we had drifted almost a quarter of a mile away from the KNUTE NELSON so there was no hope of anyone finding us. Read the article.

Page 21

...I remember thinking, "This is bearable, for how long I don't know, but it is bearable." Read the article.

Page 22

...if the searchlight had not remained on us at that time, utter panic would have seized the lot of us. Read the article.

Page 23

My weight by this time was considerable, and I could scarcely lift myself even two rungs on this contrivance. Read the article.

Page 24

...I stood numbly there, still unbelieving, two sailors cut of my life belt with huge knives and finally managed to get me out of my coat. Read the article.

Page 25

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Page 26

...for the rest of the time on the destroyer, he went to endless pains to do things to bring us comfort. Read the article.

Page 27

I had last seen him still in our slight craft pushing at me to get up the ladder and I had not motion yet whether he was aboard. Read the article.

Page 28

Finally...I found Andrew on the floor. He was wrapped in a big wooly overall coat... Read the article.

Page 29

The next morning the two destroyers slipped into dock at Greenock. Read the article.

Page 30

During this period of waiting, my big burly sailor of that first night, the feel of whose oilskinned arms I shall always remember with thankfulness, came up with a tiny baby in his arms. Read the article.

Page 31

All the way up to Glasgow, we drove through crowds of shouting and cheering people. Read the article.

Page 32

When Mr. Allen's name was not among them, Granny asked us the truth... Read the article.

Page 33

But somehow the thought that was most powerful during this second attempt to cross the ocean in war time was, "It can't happen twice." Read the article.

About Judith Evelyn and Andrew Allan

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Athenia Manuscript Index

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