The SS Athenia was the first British ship to be sunk by Germany during


World War II. It was torpedoed by the U-boat U-30 in September 1939.

SS Athenia in The War That Came Early[]

The SS Athenia was an American[1] cruise ship that was sunk by a German U-boat under the command of Julius Lemp in the January 1939, well into the Second World War. The Nazi Party, terrified that the loss of American life might prompt the U.S. to enter the war, claimed that the British were behind the sinking in order to draw the neutral USA in. Most observers, including Peggy Druce, who was trapped in German-occupied Europe wanting to sail on the Athenia, doubted the Germans' side of the story.