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SS Athenia

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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SS Athenia

The 13,465-ton passenger liner Athenia, built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co for the Donaldson Line, and launched in 1923.

On 3 September 1939, en route from Glasgow to Montreal, Athenia became the first merchant marine casualty of the Second World War. She was torpedoed and sunk without warning by the German submarine U-30, some 200 miles west of the Hebrides, only 10 hours after Britain's declaration of war. There were 112 fatalities (of whom twenty-eight were Americans) out of the 1,418 on board.

Many of the survivors were disembarked at Greenock and transferred to hotels in Glasgow. Donations poured in for Lord Provost Patrick Dollan's City of Glasgow Central War Relief Fund, including £1,000 from the Donaldson Line and £250 from Fairfield's. American ambassador Joseph Kennedy sent his 19-year-old son, future president John, to visit 150 American survivors in the Beresford Hotel in Sauchiehall Street.

Reference: Mitchell Library, G 623.809 FAI

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

Athenia, Beresford Hotel, City of Glasgow Central War Relief Fund, disasters, Donaldson Line, Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, lifeboats, liners, passenger ships, submarines, torpedoes, U-30, U-boats

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