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

Over the years that AHOY has been trying to locate lists of survivors from the Athenia, torpedoed on Sunday the 3rd. of September 1939, the very first day of WW2, we have not found a consolidated list of those survivors rescued by Royal Navy destroyers Escort, Electra and Fame, and landed at Gourock on the Clyde at Scotland.

Recently several names have become available, and this new page will list them. Should any of our readers have additional names to add, we would be pleased if they would contact us.

  1. Lydia Pemberton and Bertha Pemberton.They were from Montreal, Quebec, Canada going to England and then coming back.
  2. Marianne Low-Beer ( now Doctor Marianne Young), living in New York )
  3. Alice Apers
  4. Laura Apers
  5. Florence Arthur
  6. Joan Eleanor Hecht
  7. Jean McVittie
  8. Wilhemina Greer
  9. Sylvia ( Greer ) Love  
  10. Florence ( Kelly ) Roseman picked up by HMS Escort
  11. Mary Kelly ( Mother of Florence ( Kelly ) Roseman picked up by HMS Escort
  12. Andreaanna Gunyon, picked up by HMS Electra.
  13. Philip C. Gunyon - aged 7
  14. Barbara A. Gunyon ( 4 ) picked up by HMS Electra.
  15. Andrew R. Gunyon ( 2 ) picked up by HMS Electra.
  16. Kathleen Ferguson ( Mother )
  17. Kathleen Ferguson ( daughter 9 years old )
  18. Margaret Ferguson ( daughter aged 3 at the time )
  19. Berta Rapp
  20. Osias Rapp
  21. Elizabeth and Margaret Orr ( picked up by HMS Escort )
  22. James Kerr. Steward
  23. Duncan MacKenzie Wood Sr
  24. Ann Scott Wood (wife of Duncan Wood Sr.)
  25. Duncan MacKenzie Wood Jr. (son of Ann and Duncan Wood)
  26. Linda May Walker
  27. Aileen Scott Philipsen (nee Marston) picked up by HMS Fame
  28. Mrs. Barbara Rodman Wilson of Garden City, New York
  29. Mary (Fraser) Donald, Montreal, Canada picked up by HMS Escort.
  30. Heather (Donald) Watts (daughter, aged 2yrs 11 months), Montreal, Canada. Both picked up by HMS Escort. <   

Injured List from Athenia who were admitted to Western Infirmary Glasgow.

The fact that these Survivors from Athenia were landed in Scotland indicates they were rescued by one of the three British Destroyers, HM ships, Electra, Escort or Fame.

And can be added to the few names we have listed on AHOY of the survivors who were transported to Gourock Scotland.

Rose Griffin - Toronto, Canada

Avelyn Moore - Regina, Canada.

Helen Dougan - Detroit, Mitchigan.

Catherine Sage - Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mildred Finley - Windsor, Connecticut.

Mabel Paul - Glasgow.

Helena Warden - Vancouver, B C .

Arch Campbell - Seaman, Dunoon, Scotland.

William White - Assistant Cook, Glasgow.

Douglas Douglas - Fort Lamont, Loch Striven, Scotland.

John Brorgn - Steward, Glasgow.

Helen De Witt- Smith - Blainfield, New Jersey, USA.

Dorothy Moore - Halifax.

Michael Flynn - Grange County New York.

Angus Graham - Glasgow.

William Edmond - Toronto, Canada.

Eileen Redgers - Toronto, Canada.

Harriet Redgers - Toronto, Canada.

Rose Badal - USA.

Elizabeth Day - Saltburn, Yorkshire.

Catherine Edmond - Toronto, Canada.

Irene Gray - Toronto, Canada.

Mary Mc Leod - Stewardess, Glasgow. see "Athenia Survivor Mary McLeod"

Helen Hannay - Glasgow and Texas.

Mary Donald - Westwood, Inverness Shire.    see "Mary (Fraser) Donald, Heather (Donald) Watts survived sinking of Athenia"

Kathleen Ferguson - Copper Cliff, Ontario.

Rosa Sadel (added November 25, 2012)

Katherine Serge (added November 25, 2012)

Helen Smith (added November 25, 2012)

Sept. 3, 1939 -- Florence Kelly leaned over the side of the lifeboat and dipped her hand in the Atlantic Ocean. The water chilled her, physically and mentally.

Sitting with her mother and fellow passengers and crew of the doomed Athenia, the 14-year-old from Maple Heights could not see any of the ship's other lifeboats in the darkness and rain.

But around her she could hear people softly crying, praying, singing bits of hymns or using their shoes to bail their small craft.

Florence, now 82 and named Roseman, said that that night 68 years ago was the worst part of being torpedoed.

As she drew close the same thin dress she was wearing on that lifeboat, as if feeling the fear still ingrained in its fibers, Roseman, of Broadview Heights, recalled, "It's cold, pitch-black and raining. It's scary."

She added, "At one point I told my mother, 'They'll never find us out here.' She said, 'Yes, they will.' "

Roseman regularly talks about that night to local civic and school groups. Her experience, she said, may be only a small piece of history, but it gave her an appreciation for everything that followed.

"I'm very fortunate to have had 68 more years of life, and it's been a very good life," she said.

Her rendezvous with German submarine U-30 resulted from a summer trip with her mother to visit relatives on the Isle of Man. Her father, W. Harry Kelly, could not spare the time from work at Fisher Foods to join them.

For their return voyage they joined 1,400 passengers (including 246 Americans) and crew aboard the British passenger liner Athenia. At morning church services on their first day at sea, they learned that Great Britain had declared war on Germany.

Eight hours later, about 250 miles northwest of Ireland, Oberleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp watched the Athenia through his periscope. The ship was zigzagging with its lights blacked out, typical of military vessels at war. He fired three torpedoes. One struck amidships.

Roseman had just finished dinner with her mother, who went to read in the lounge while her daughter strolled out on deck.

"When the explosion hit, I had to grab a railing. Two crewmen sitting on a hatch about 20 feet away were blown up in the air and came down lifeless and black," she said. "The ship shuddered, rocked from side to side, then you could feel it sinking a little bit."

Her mother rushed out and they joined passengers loading into lifeboats. "We lost everything except for what we were wearing," Roseman said.

After a long, lonely night, the passengers were rescued and watched the crippled Athenia make its final plunge. Some 112 passengers and crew were lost, including 28 Americans.

Two weeks later, the Athenia survivors were headed home aboard another ship. This time, Roseman said, the vessel had large American flags painted on its deck and sides, ablaze with more than enough lights at night to settle any doubts a sub commander might have as to the ship's identity. (America was neutral at that point in the war.)

She remembered that some fellow survivors still weren't taking any chances and spent the entire trip wearing life jackets or swearing they never wanted to see the sea again.

Roseman had quite a tale to tell a school assembly at Maple Heights High School when she got back. She later married Bill Roseman (who died 13 years ago), an Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. They used to joke that he had a rougher time during the war, but she got shot at first.

Roseman still takes cruises and once made an ocean trip with her daughter, Mary, and mother. In fact, she prefers ships to planes. Less risky, the torpedo survivor said.


Rose Griffin headstone

Rose Griffin

Rose Griffin headstone


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