||Honors! Table of Contents||
The sinking of HMT ROHNA
1,015 Americans killed
|26 November 1943 --- British troopship
of 8,602 tons, carrying 2,193 passengers, including 1,988 US troops, 7
Red Cross personnel and a crew of 198, sailed from Oran, Algieria, bound
for Bombay, India, via the Suez Canal. She joined convoy KMF 26 which consisted
of 24 ships, and between Algiers and Phillopville the Rohna was hit by
a German HS 293 'glider bomb' dropped from a Heinkel 177 bomber of 11/KG-40.
The Rohna, crewed by Indian seamen under British officers and captained by an Australian, was owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company. The ship sank in less than 30 minutes taking 1,047 US troops and 102 crew members to a watery death.
Between 10.30pm and midnight, rescue ships, including the minesweeper USS Pioneer, the Red Cross ship Clan Campbell and the Rohna's sister ship HMT Rajula, reported ‘sailing through a sea of floating bodies’.
Just over 900 survivors were rescued. Eight of the Heinkel 177s were shot down. Survivors were landed at Phillopville and taken care of by a British army unit. Details of this tragedy were kept secret for many years.
|Excerpt about the ROHNA sinking
Rohna's early service was mainly in eastern waters but from 1942 she was in the thick of things in the Mediterranean, including being present at the Sicilian landings the following year.
She had a brief period as a naval accommodation ship at Algiers and then after leaving Oran, Eastbound for India in convoy KMF 26 with 2000 American troops, had the misfortune to become the first victim of a radio-controlled glider bomb off Bougie on 26th November 1943 the missile struck the Rohna amidships on the port side, just above the waterline, and flames soon engulfed the whole of the superstructure. The order was given to abandon ship but the Rohna sank within fifteen minutes. Of the 200 crew, 18 gunners, a hospital orderly, 2000 American and 13 British troops on board, 122 crew, 11 gunners, the orderly and 1015 American troops were lost. May they rest in peace.
|CONVOY KMF - 26
26 November 1943 --- Luftwaffe attacks Convoy KMF-26 at dusk; SS Rohna (British troop transport ship) hit by Hs 293; sunk; 1015 US and British crew killed.
HMS Coventry, HMS Catterick, HMS Atherstone, HMS Cleveland, HMS Slazak (All British warships); the SS Banfora, and SS Clan Campbell (British transport ships); and the USS Frederick C. Davis and USS Herbert C. Jones (US destroyer escorts) come under attack.
USS Pioneer (US minesweeper) attacked by several Hs 293's; no hits; employed evasive action.
Full story - LOCAL COPY: The Luftwaffe's Use of Tactical Radio Guided Missiles
|Sgt. Schoenacker's recollection
of the sinking
"We left Oran on Thanksgiving morning (1943). We had a Thanksgiving dinner aboard ship. It was calm but we were near shore where there were swells that 'rocked the boat' and spoiled some meals. Once out of the harbor it was rougher, perhaps five-foot waves. We were on a British ship, HMTS Rohna. There were nearly 2,000 Americans, some Army and our outfit and a few Red Cross workers. We had an Asian crew. I now know that it was British convoy KMF-26; we were not in it long enough to remember much. "
"I remember the goat, midship starboard, not knowing why it was there, and I recall noticing that the two huge rafts on forward well deck at a 45° angle were painted securely to the frame from which they were supposed to slide. We had been assured that the Mediterranean had been swept clear of Nazi U-boats. We stayed in sight of the African coast until the next afternoon, Friday November 26. After losing sight of shore, we came under air attack. I now know that we were almost due south of Marseille, and that there were about 35 planes. We were to stay in our bunking area and were warned not to crowd to the portholes. We were forward, port side near the stairs, down one deck. Some fellows went to the latrine to look out. During the attack, Reid said he was going to take a look, uncharacteristic of him. I played solitaire." http://www.daileyint.com/flying/flyingc.htm
Image copied from
The Rohna Survivors Memorial Association
Memorial is located in the
Fort Mitchell National Cemetery
in Seale, Alabama.
|Links to local copies:
About the book:THE ROHNA DISASTER, WWII's Secret Tragedy
Congressional Resolution and Recognition - September 2000
Links to external websites: