3214 Phil Gunyon Meets Fellow Survivors at 80th Anniversary of the Sinking of the S.S. Athenia

Above: Nine survivors of the sinking of the S.S. Athenia meet in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 3 Sept 2019 to mark 80 years since the sinking.

Article courtesy of 3214 Phil Gunyon (RMC 1954)

The first meeting to commemorate the torpedoing of TSS Athenia happened in Halifax after 80 years, on 3rd September 2019. It took nearly a year of planning by survivors Heather Watts, Vivian Collver and Phil Gunyon,

With help from authors Francis Carroll (“Athenia Torpedoed”) and Tom Sanger (“Without Warning”), they contacted a number of survivors. Eventually nine came to Halifax from Canada and the USA, all over 80.

Sixty-five people ranging in age from 9 to 92, assembled in the Sable Ballroom of the Marriott Harbourfront Hotel. There were the nine survivors, their families, descendants of other survivors and of casualties, the two authors and other friends.

Everyone received a name tag from a pair of granddaughters, who also handed each survivor a red rose as MC Phil Gunyon introduced them. A souvenir lunch program was given out and several displays and a TV video lined the ballroom.

After lunch the assembly heard from author Francis Carroll, survivor ‘Scott’ Calder, Dean Collver, the son of a survivor and Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Curator Roger Marsters.

That evening at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, author Tom Sanger gave his lecture about the characters in his book and afterward entertained comments from some survivors and questions from the public. An overflow crowd of 140 attended.

CBC’s Tom Murphy interviewed several participants and Tom Sanger videotaped interviews with each survivor for a documentary he is preparing.

After the events, Vivian Collver summed it up in a message to Carrie-Ann Smith of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

“Amazing… I think that all the organizers have been blown away by the response we have had to the reunion. Positive emails keep flowing in from those who attended the event. Probably this reunion should have happened years ago; we’re just glad it happened this year…”

Vivian started a website in 2018 to publicize this event. We plan to keep it updated.


For more on the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Athenia please see here.

One Comment

  • Aus Cambon

    October 15, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Great stuff, Phil! Your story is quite amazing. Look forward now to hearing more from you face-to-face before too long. You look so young for having been on this unique life adventure so long ago. Best wishes,Aus. 3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, Class Secretary, Class of RR’52/RMC’54.