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The Untold Story of Athenia’s Last Voyage at the Beginning of World War II

Thomas C. Sanger

The first British victims of World War II died when their passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed on September 3, 1939, only a few hours after England declared war on Nazi Germany. Author Thomas C. Sanger explores the circumstances that led to this little-known incident and the life-and-death decisions passengers faced when unexpectedly thrust into a war they thought they had outrun. Sanger’s grandmother was a passenger on the ship and survived to write about her experiences. He will share some of her eyewitness accounts and discuss why, despite Athenia’s place in history, the ship’s sinking has faded from our collective memory.

Instructor: Thomas C. Sanger has had a long career as a writer. He worked as a journalist for the Associated Press and KABC radio in Los Angeles, researched and wrote documentary scripts for the Australian Broadcasting Corp., and enjoyed a 22-year career in public relations. Sanger is the author of three books, including Without Warning, a historical novel about Athenia’s sinking.

Coordinator: Candace Gietzen

Course Number: OSHR-70027   Credit: 0 units


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