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  • Writer's pictureDon Milne

Remembering the forgotten tragedy equal to sinking of USS Arizona



On 26 November 1943, an Allied convoy KMF-26 Annex, deployed for the Pacific Theater of Operation, was in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Algeria. The troop carrier HMT Rohna, crewed by British and Indian lascars, was part of the 26 ship convoy, and was carrying 2,000 US Army and US Army Air Corps soldiers destined for India.


At 1700 hours, the HMT Rohna was hit by a Henschel Hs-293’s radio-controlled missile at the water level. Men from the 853rd Engineering Battalion was quartered near the impact site which, due to the blast, subsequent fires, and exploding ammunition, caused a majority of the 1,015 American deaths. The others succumbed to hyperthermia after abandoning ship. Over 100 British and Indian crew members also perished in the attack.


This tragic loss of American servicemen nearly equaled to the infamous sinking of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor and was 200 more than the USS Indianapolis.


To keep the Germans from learning the cataclysmic success of their new weapon, the Allied command designated the sinking as “classified”. The US War Department delivered telegrams to the grieving families that their loved ones were lost and ‘there was no further information’. Survivors were warned, under potential court martial, that they were not to tell their experiences to anyone. Even after the war, many family members remained in the dark about the sinking for decades.


Stories Behind the Stars is partnering with The Rohna Survivors Memorial Association (TRSMA) to honor everyone of the soldiers that died that night. Their webpage is Home - TRSMA (rohnasurvivors.org).


The 80th Anniversary of the sinking is 26 November 2023. We anticipate it will get significant media attention.


We are seeking those interested in honoring their deaths to construct and submit stories of the Rohna fallen within Fold3 or TogetherWeServed by this date. To participate in this project, email Jack Chisum at jchisum@q.com. He can match you up with names or answer any related questions.


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