Athenia Memoir by Rhoda Thomas

Hi Mac,

Here is the first page of my grandmother, Rhoda Thomas’, recollections of her Athenia experience. So far as I know, the editing marks on the manuscript are hers. I don’t know exactly when she wrote this account, but I suspect it may have been in response to an inquiry from the U.S. State Department in November of 1939. The department acknowledged receiving her account of the events of the sinking in a letter dated Dec. 6, 1939.

Her account is 14 pages and I will send them as attachments to separate emails to you. If you have trouble reading them, you or Terry might advise how I could transmit these pages more clearly. Thank you again for providing such a valuable forum and resource.

Tom Sanger

Page 1
It was seventeen years since I had visited my native land, and now after a period of saving, planning, and preparing, I was truly on my wa to England again... Read the article.
Page 2
...Danzig and the Polish Corridor. England was negotiating with Russia an all in all they were sure Hitler would be afraid to start anthing againast such a powerful opposition... Read the article.
Page 3
...letter saying the sailing of the "Scythia" had been cancelled, but the7y would make further arrangements. The following Wednesday I go a phone message to say I could get a reservation on the "Athenia" sailing September 2nd from Liverpool... Read the article.
Page 4 most of my friends, I was rushed off to try to catch the Express. We just made it as the train was 10 minutes late and the train was crowded with people returning unexpectedly from their vacations all looking doubtfull as to the future... Read the article.
Page 5
...standstill, there were bus drivers and cab drivers, man and women with tears in their eyes. It was a pathetic sight. I also saw hundreds and hundreds of Scotch soldiers in the kilds with Knapscaks on their back, evendently enroute to join their regiments... Read the article.
Page 6
...people for twenty-five years. We didn't sail until 3:30 P. M. and it seemed I couldn't get settles. I didn't feel a bit like unpacking my suitcases. I took out my bathrobe and one or two dresses and hung them up. The then went around the ship and heard protests from passengers who were disappointed in their berths... Read the article.
Page 7 cabin, washed, and changed my dres(s) for dinner. I took my coat and had with me as I decided to come back on deck right after. Mrs. Townley said she didn't feel well, but she ate dinner and we both went up on deck and found a seat starboard of the hatchway... Read the article.
Page 8
...We found a pail in the boat and started to bail out the water. We seemd to be crowded and two fo the young boys who were rowing I discovered, were stewards from the Athenia... Read the article.
Page 9 we did, so we were ablr to discern other life boats close to it. We started to light the flares that we found on the boart.. I held them up and we tried hard to put toward that ship but it seemed we could not get any nearer.. Read the article.
Page 10 American Freighter "The City of Flint" was on her way to give aid and to pick up the Americans and Canadians who wanted to continue enroute to America... Read the article.
Page 11
...remainder of the voyage and worked hard toward helping to feed us all. Then there was a young doctor who worked night and day attending the sick and injured and it was by no means easy...He treated my hand which I had burned rather badly holding up the lighted flares... Read the article.
Page 12
...The sailors set about making little shoes out of rope for the children...and one day they gave the kiddies a birthday party... Read the article.
Page 13
...I heard Bing Crosby's voice and I cried for joy, because then I know we were getting near home.  Monday night a rumor went around that a submarine was sighted off Newfoundland... Read the article.
Page 14
...I can't describe the joy... Read the article.

Thomas Athenia Manuscript Index

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