Elizabeth and Margaret Orr, survivors of Athenia

(see "Survivors from Athenia rescued by Royal Navy destroyers, Escort, Electra and Fame, and landed at Gourock on the Clyde, Scotland.")

Hello Mac !
My name is Margo Farnsworth, and both my Granny and Mom were survivors of the Athenia sinking. Elizabeth and Margaret Orr.

I have a very special scrapbook that my Grandad put together for my Granny in December 1939, which includes newspaper articles (list of survivors, both passengers and crew) and telegrams... Some of these articles are from Glasgow newspapers ( The Scottish Daily Express) and some from our Calgary Herald.

It is my most prized possession as my Mom passed away 12 years ago and I never was lucky enough to meet my Granny, as she passed away long before I was a twinkle in my Father's eyes...

I also have a napkin ring from the RMS Athenia, as well as an original "plan of passenger accommodation" for the RMS Athenia.

I too possess an undershirt from a sailor, who I believe was from the Southern Cross. This was given to my Granny to wrap around my mom to keep her warm, once rescued...

I'm also lucky enough to have a book that was written by Max Caulfield, called "A Night of Terror, The Story of the Athenia Affair". It has apparently been republished as "Tomorrow Never Came"

If I can be of any assistance to you with the information that I have, I would be more than happy to share it.
Yours sincerely,
Margo Farnsworth
Calgary, Alberta


How nice to hear from you from Canada, one of our favourite countries to visit from Australia, and we have been to Calgary some years ago.

Thank you for your offer to share your information about the loss of Athenia, I would love any lists of survivors of both passengers and crew, and copies of newspaper articles about her demise, so we might add it to our Athenia Pages on AHOY. The plan of passenger accommodation would also be helpful please.

I am still trying to uncover the survivor list of those picked up by the British Destroyers, Electra, Escort and Fame, and taken to Gourock on the Clyde.
Did the Southern Cross transfer your Mother and Gran to either City of Flint, or the Norwegian Tanker Knute Nelson?

The City of Glasgow in 2009 will open an Athenia Display in their planned new Transport Museum, and their Curator Emily Malcolm at Emily.Malcolm@cls.glasgow.gov.uk 

I am sure would like to hear from you Margo.

Best wishes,
Mac. Gregory.


Thank you for your reply and interest!

I see Emily as well, has been copied on this e-mail. I also sent her an e-mail yesterday with similar information..
I was very excited to hear that a museum is going to "remember" the Athenia and that it will be on display for others to learn about.

My Mom was extremely proud of her heritage and would be delighted if I could share a piece of their history "back home to the old country" too.

Since most of the articles are pasted to scrapbook pages and my scanner is small, these items might come through separated, but I will certainly try and put them into named files for order. I must admit I'm a little "computer challenged"!!!

I stand corrected, it was not the Southern Cross but HMS Escort that rescued them. In this scrapbook there is an article reporting the sinking of the Escort. Unfortunately the year of this article was not saved, only the date, July 15. Beside this article is a picture of a destroyer, but nothing surrounding it explaining if it is in fact the Escort. You can clearly see the numbers on the side, which read H66. Perhaps this is a picture of the Escort. With your knowledge of wartime ships, hopefully you can verify or disprove which ship this is..

I will begin to scan and forward you items from this scrapbook. I will apologize upfront that some of the articles are faded and they may not scan dark enough to read.

Thank you again for your interest!
Sincerely yours, 
Margo Farnsworth


Thank you.

HMS Escort was sunk on July 11 1940, off Gibratlar by the Italian Submarine Marconi.

Escort's   pennant number was H 66.

In February of 1940 she was involved in sinking a German U-Boat.

25 Feb, 1940
The German submarine U-63 tried to attack convoy HN-14, in doing so she was sighted by the British submarine HMS Narwhal (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Burch, RN). The escorting destoyers HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, RN) were warned. They located, attacked and sank U-63 with depth charges south east of the Shetland Islands. (see map)

Here is a photo of her.


Hi Mac,

I did manage to scan some articles to forward. I will be trying to scan the very large article that announces survivors as well as the article on the sinking of the Escort with the picture too.

I'm not sure if you're interested in the letters or Christmas card that was sent to my Grandad from a Lieutenant serving on the Escort during Nov & Dec, I believe from 1939... Again, just months and days are written and not years. I cannot make out his name however he writes that he is a Lieutenant R.N. Executive Officer..

Hope these articles and keepsakes are helpful.

Best regards, 
Margo Farnsworth
Ps. I had to send two e-mails as the file was too large to send all attachments at once..


Some detail about HMS Escort.

HMS Escort (H 66)

Destroyer of the E class
Navy:  The Royal Navy
Type:  Destroyer
Class:  E
Pennant:  H 66
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)
History:  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.

Noteable events involving Escort include:

3 Sep, 1939
HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, RN) and HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) together pick up 481 survivors from the British passenger ship Athenia which was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-30 about 250 nautical miles west of Inishtrahull in position 56º44'N, 14º05'W.


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