Bernice Jansen, passenger on the Athenia

Hello Mac,

I have visited your web site before looking for my Aunt Bernice Jansen as a passenger on the Athenia, to no avail. However, I recently came into posession ( from another relative) newspaper clippings of interviews and copies of correspondence she gave after the sinking of the ship. I thought you may be interested to add her to your list of survivors. She was a episcopal missionary working in Japan on her way home to Red Wing, Minnesota.

In one of the news articles it names 4 additional survivors: a one Mrs. Jane Sutherland (daughter of Maj. General and Mrs. H. Sutherland) and her Children: Dorothy 15, Betty 17, and John 14 . all 5 returned to the U.S. on the liner Orizaba, per the article.

I hope this information is of interest and assistance to you.

best regards,
Christy Velasco.


Thank you for all your trouble, its wonderful to get more information on Athenia survivors.

But good news.

Recently I received some extracts fom the London Times archives, they include lists of all passengers who died in that tragedy, those picked up by the City of Flint to be taken to Halifax, those picked up by the Norwegian tanker Knute Nelson and taken to Galway. In this last list Jane Sutherland is included but not her children.

Now, your Aunt is also on this list, but shown as Bernice Janson ( not Jansen ) American, 3rd.class, ( meaning she had a 3rd. ticket ) and there is is an ( L ) in front of her name which means she had joined Athenia in Liverpool.

I have included a photo of the passenger ship Orizaba, and some brief history of her, she made but one trip from the States to Glasgow, and obviously back to the States ( on charter to the United States Shipping Line ) she must have called in at Galway to collect the US survivors including your Aunt Bernice and the four Sutherlands.

Thanks to you Christy I can add the three Sutherland children to the Galway list.

Would it be possible please to have a copy of these newspaper clippings of interviews and copies of her correspondence, that is, if they are not too personal, I would love to add them to our Athenia pages on AHOY. We have generated such a lot of interest about this first victim of the U- Boat War in WW2, and a lot of people would, I am sure like to share your information.

The last lot of survivors were picked up by the British destroyers Electra and Escort and taken to Gourock in Scotland, that list, still eludes me, but persistence may still win out eventually.

Once again my thanks for your time and trouble, it is very much appreciated.

My kindest regards,


passenger ship Orizaba

7582 gross tons, length 423ft x beam 60ft, two funnels, two masts, twin screw, speed 17 knots, accommodation for 306-1st, 60-2nd, 60-3rd and 1,000-4th class passengers. Built for the Ward Line (New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co), New York in 1918 by W.Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia. She started sailings repatriating US troops from Brest to New York on 14th Jan.1919 and commenced her eighth and last voyage on this route on 22nd Nov.1919. In Jan.1920 she started her first New York - Havana - Coruna - Santander - Bilbao sailing and started her last crossing on this service when she left Santander for New York on 12th Aug.1921. Subsequently used on the New York - Havana route, but made one voyage chartered to United States Lines from New York to Glasgow in Sep.1939. In 1941 she became a US troopship (one funnel) and in 1946 was sold to the Brazilian Navy and renamed DUQUE DE CAXIAS.[North Atlantic Seaway, vol.4,p.1484 by N.R.P.Bonsor]


Hello again, The Spelling " Jansen " is the correct one as I find in the news articles, her signature, church records, and family birth/death records.
She was to have originally traveled aboard the Scythnia, but sailing was cancelled and she was transferred (along with others) to the Athenia. She received a head injury after falling off the ship and hitting her head on a life boat. She was hospitalized in Galway and in one of the articles/letters it says it was a doctor from the Athenia who stitched her up.

I'm glad that I was able to provide a bit more to the puzzle. Thank you so much for all you are doing.  It is an asset to our nation to have these records.

most sincerely,

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