Passenger aboard the Athenia when it was torpedoed

I am a novice at browsing and while experimenting came across your e mail address.

I was fascinated too, for the first time, to come across information on the ATHENIA.

My wife, age 11 at the time, in the company of her governess, was a passenger aboard the Athenia when it was torpedoed. She and her governess spent many hours in a lifeboat and eventually rescued by a British destroyer, HMS ESCORT. After a period sub-chasing, she was taken to Greenock, Scotland. She fondly remembers the kindness shown by the crew when she needed assistance getting in and of her hammock.

The HMS Escort was subsequently sunk by an Italian sub in the Mediterranean.
Commander M.Philip Lorber, US Navy Judge Advocate Ret.

Hello Philip,

Thank you for your E-mail, we are always pleased to be able to add to our Athenia Pages on AHOY.

The only survivor's list I have not been able to track down is those who were rescued by the Royal Navy Destroyers, could you please let me have your wife's maiden name and that of her governess so we might add them to our page?

Here is some detail about the sinking of Escort in the Mediterranean:

HMS Escort (H 66)

Destroyer of the E class
Navy:  The Royal Navy
Type:  Destroyer
Class:  E
Pennant:  H 65
Built by:  Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland)
Laid down:  30 Mar, 1933
Launched:  29 Mar, 1934
Commissioned:  6 Nov, 1934
Lost:  11 Jul, 1940
Loss position:  36.11N, 03.37W (See a map)

HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. John Bostock, DSC, RN) was torpedoed in the forward boiler room by the Italian submarine Guglielmo Marconi in position 36º11'N, 03º37'W. She foundered east of Gibraltar while under tow. 

HMS Escort picture 

Best wishes,
Mackenzie Gregory.

My wife:Joan Eleanor Hecht
Governess: Jeanie Mc Vittie
Thank you for details on HMS Escort

I spent 17 post war years in Germany. At the major war crimes trial, Admiral Doenitz was defended by Otto Krantzbuhler, a Captain, Judge Advocate,German Navy ( concededly the best of the German defense attorneys) Doenitz to some extent held responsible for the sinking of the Athenia .He received a 10 year sentence.

Joan was ultimitely returned to the US in the company of another survivor, Florance Hargraves. Jeanie, the stoic Scot, returned later on a British ship.

Do you have any idea of how many survivors are still alive?

Thanks again for your public service.



Thank you for that, was Florance Hargraves also picked up by the Escort?

I guess I have have found about seven survivors from the sinking of Athenia who are still alive.

I still think that Doenitz was rather unlucky to draw a 10 year sentence at Nurenberg, when WW2 started in September 1938, Admiral Raeder was the boss of the Kreigsmarine, with Doenitz responsible for the U-Boat arm.

Julius Lemp as CO of U-30 disregarded orders when he sank Athenia, he was supposed to be operating within the restrictions of Naval Prize Law, which meant he should give a warning before attacking Athenia.
Please see this report:

German submarines (previously deployed to operating areas in late August) begin attacks upon British shipping: during these early operations, U 30 (Kapitanleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp) torpedoes (without warning) British passenger liner Athenia south of Rockall Bank, 56°44'N, 14°05'W; 28 American citizens are among the dead. U.S. freighter City of Flint, Swedish yacht Southern Cross, Norwegian freighter Knute Nelson, and British destroyers HMS Electra and HMS Escort rescue survivors. Despite having been given strict orders that all merchant vessels are to be treated in accordance with naval prize law (giving a warning before attacking) Lemp's torpedoing Athenia in the belief that she is an armed merchant cruiser gives the British the erroneous impression that Germany has commenced unrestricted submarine warfare (see 16 and 22 September and 8 November).

Really how may Doenitz cop the blame for Lemp's actions?

Your kind comments are appreciated.



Joan does not recall name of ship that picked up Florance Hargrave.She was a school principal from Eau Claire Wisconsin whom the American Embassy requested to accompany Joan on the voyage back to the U.S, the Scot. governess not well enough to make the trip until later. Incidentally, she remained in the family for 46 years, raising our children.

Doenitz was charged with 3 counts at the Nurenberg trial:

1--The common plan or conspiracy
2-Crimes against peace-aggressive war.
3-war crimes

He was found not guilty of count 1. guilty of counts 2 and 3.
There was considerable evidence of his complicity in knowledge of altering the U boat Log.

Where are you located?

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