Athenia Torpedoed: 2 of 4: The U-Boat Attack that Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic Kindle Edition by Francis M. Carroll (Author)

Mar 04, 03:25 AM

Photo:English: Sinking of Ss Athenia, September 1939

A young boy wrapped in a blanket is passed down from the gangway of the Norwegian vessel KNUTE NELSON at Galway harbour, Ireland. Another survivor also wrapped in a blanket can be seen on the gangway. They had been rescued from the passenger liner SS ATHENIA which was torpedoed by U-30 on the evening of 3 September 1939 off the north west coast of Ireland and sank the next morning.

Date between 1939 and 1945


IWMLondonThumbnail.jpg This is photograph HU 51014 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg

Author Press Agency photographer


(Reusing this file) 

This image was created and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Photographs taken, or artworks created, by a member of the forces during their active service duties are covered by Crown Copyright provisions. Faithful reproductions may be reused under that licence, which is considered expired 50 years after their creation.

Part of Ministry of Information Second World War Press Agency Print Collection


Associated people and organisations

Nielsen, Knut

Associated places

Galway, Republic of Ireland

Associated events

SS Athenia (sinking) 1939, Atlantic Ocean, Second World War

Associated keywords

Rescue, Children, Naval Warfare

Category photographs

Image Sorted yes


This image is in the public domain because it is a mere mechanical scan or photocopy of a public domain original, or – from the available evidence – is so similar to such a scan or photocopy that no cop

Athenia Torpedoed: 2 of 4: The U-Boat Attack that Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic Kindle Edition by Francis M. Carroll (Author)

This book is an account of a disaster at sea, the sinking by a German submarine of the passenger liner Athenia sailing from Liverpool to Montreal, loaded with Americans, Canadians, and Europeans, attempting to cross the Atlantic before the outbreak of war. Although 112 people were lost, of whom 30 were the first Americans killed in the war, 1,306 were rescued. Housewives, children, college students, scientists, actresses, and Jewish refugees were among the victims, and even young John F. Kennedy was called on to give assistance. The drama, tragedy, and triumph of their experiences are a central part of the story. But of course the book is also about war and politics. Indeed, this is actually where the Second World War began. Here Germany, having already invaded Poland in what was expected to be a limited war, first struck the western Allies, Britain and France. This was the first blow, fired without warning, just hours after war was declared. For Britain, the sinking of the Athenia was seen as both a violation of international law and a return to the kind of total war Germany had waged in the Great War. The sinking of the Athena immediately pushed Britain to adopt convoys to protect shipping, and it served from the first to shape British public opinion toward the war. In Canada the sinking of the ship and particularly the death of the innocent, ten year old Margaret Hayworth, became emotional issues around which much of the nation could rally in support of the decision of Parliament to go to war. In the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was too wary to make the sinking of the Athenia the counterpart of the sinking of the Lusitania in the First World War. However, the Athenia ...