Thomas C. Sanger - Author of Without Warning - photo

A Message From the Author

Hello and welcome to my website. My historical novel, Without Warning (River Grove Books), is based on actual people and events. It tells the little-known story of Athenia’s tragic sinking at the beginning of World War II. Elsewhere on this site you can read an excerpt, find a brief description of the story, and learn more about the research behind the writing.

I first became interested in writing about Athenia, a British passenger liner sunk by a German U-boat, because my grandmother, Rhoda Thomas, was aboard the ship. Over the years, I found that many people knew of the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a U-boat during World War I, but few had ever heard of Athenia, even though 30 Americans died in that attack, more than two years before Pearl Harbor. In researching the book, I read many inspiring and harrowing accounts written by other survivors and spoke to a handful of them who are still alive. What began as a project to remember my grandmother has become for me an effort to honor the memories of Athenia’s passengers whose heroism and sacrifices have been overshadowed by the war’s greater conflagrations.

Tom’s Athenia Blog

The Russell Park Story, Part 12

September 20, 1939 A few bright stars shone in the twilight sky as the American passenger ship Orizaba sat anchored in Galway Bay on Ireland’s west coast. Eleven-year-old Russell Park, who had boarded the ship in Glasgow, Scotland, with the first group of Athenia survivors, stood at the ship’s railing to watch the final group... Read More

Did My Parents Survive? The Russell Park Story, Part 11

Tuesday, September 5, 1939 A long line of single and double-decked buses, led by several ambulances, threaded their way through Glasgow’s suburbs. Filled with survivors of Athenia’s sinking, the buses were arriving several hours after the survivors had been expected to disembark in the city. A dense fog lingering on the River Clyde had forced... Read More