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

My Grandmother’s Memoir of Survival: Rhoda’s Story, Part 6: 

In Part 5 of Rhoda’s Story, my grandmother’s lifeboat was rescued by a luxury yacht after her passenger ship, Athenia, was torpedoed by a German submarine on the evening of Sept.3, 1939. The next morning, she transferred along with 235 other survivors to an American freighter, The City of Flint, to sail on to Canada.... Read More

Rhoda’s Story – Part 5: The Rescue!

In Part 4 of Rhoda’s Story, my grandmother climbed down a rope ladder into a lifeboat after her passenger ship, Athenia, was torpedoed by a German submarine on the evening of Sept.3, 1939, while sailing to Canada. Once in the lifeboat, Rhoda held a baby under her warm coat to keep the child out of... Read More