"Ruth" Letter; Athenia Survivor

March 15, 2011

Hello Mac,

In September 2007 a Mr. Peter Homes in West Australia wrote to you with a letter he had come across from a woman named “Ruth” who had survived the sinking of the Athenia, along with her husband, Harold, and son, Geof. see "Letter dated 22 September 1939 from Ruth, a survivor of S.S. Athenia"

You posted the correspondence and Ruth’s letter on AHOY. The letter contained no surname for the family and Mr. Homes was hoping to find the name among a list of survivors. I don’t know if he succeeded, but if not, I may have found an answer for him. In doing some research, I came across a news story in the Milwaukee Sentinel, dated Sept. 14, 1939. The article states that Mr. and Mrs. Harold Etherington and their 11-year-old son, Geoffrey, arrived safely in Halifax, N.S., aboard the City of Flint after being rescued following the attack on the Athenia.

I think the Etheringtons are the family Mr. Homes was seeking. The article gives their address as 2618 N. Fifty-ninth St., Milwaukee, which is the same address that appears at the top of Ruth’s letter. In addition, the article describes in general terms the events that Ruth so vividly recounts in her letter involving her husband, Harold, and son, Geof, before, during and after the torpedoing. If anyone is still wondering about Ruth’s identity after all this time, I think the newspaper article pretty conclusively connects the dots.

Tom Sanger


Here is an E-Mail from Thomas Sanger that should prove of interest to you,

Kind regards,



Thanks for passing on the reply from Tom. It is a bit like a letter in a bottle (thrown into the sea ) after all
these years since 2007. 

At the time I sent the details on to you, I had found the letter in the papers of my nursing home bound father in
law and wondered why he had retained such information as he was Dutch born and spent WW2 in The Netherlands and really had no connection with The USA.

Thanks again
Peter Holmes

Western Australia . Sk

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