|Operator:||British India Steam Navigation Company|
|Ordered:||15 March 1941|
|Builder:||Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn-on-Tyne, England|
|Launched:||24 August 1926|
|Completed:||5 November 1926|
|Fate:||Sunk by the Luftwaffe in an air attack on 26 November 1943|
|Tonnage:||8,602 long tons (8,740 t)|
|Length:||461 ft 4 in (140.61 m)|
|Beam:||61 ft 8 in (18.80 m)|
|Draught:||29 ft 9 in (9.07 m)|
2 x 4 Cylinder Quadruple Expansion
|Speed:||14.3 knots (26.5 km/h)|
281 First Class|
33 Second Class
100 Third Class
5064 Deck Passengers (reduced later to 3851)
His Majesty's Troopship Rohna (named after a village in Sonipat, Punjab, in India) was a troop ship carrying U.S. troops that was sunk by an air attack of the Luftwaffe during World War II, on 26 November 1943. The ship sank in the Mediterranean north of Béjaïa, Algeria.
The ship was part of convoy KMF-26 (Annex) travelling east from Oran to the Far East via the Suez Canal.
Of the 1,138 men lost, 1,015 were American. The attack still constitutes the largest loss of U.S. troops at sea. A further 35 American troops of the 2,000 originally on board later died of wounds. As well as the troops, five ship officers and 117 ratings (out of 200) died, along with 11 of the 12 gunners on board and one hospital orderly.
The heavy loss was in part due to a flotilla of seven empty large landing craft (LCI(L)) failing to stop to pick up survivors, for which the commanding officer was relieved of his command. However, 606 survivors were rescued by the minesweeper USS Pioneer.
The details of the loss were revealed slowly over time and were only released in full in 1967 following the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act. However, already by February 1944 the US government had acknowledged that over 1000 soldiers had been lost in the sinking of an unnamed troopship in European waters, though it hinted at the time that a submarine was responsible. By June 1945, the government had provided accurate casualty figures, the ship had been identified by name as Rohna, and the cause of the sinking had been identified as German bombers. This account did not mention the fact that a guided missile was responsible.
The sinking was done with a Henschel Hs 293 radio-controlled glide bomb, launched and controlled by a Heinkel 177 bomber piloted by Hans Dochtermann. HMT Rohna was not the first casualty of a guided missile, however, as the British HMS Egret was sunk with the loss of 198 men on 27 August the same year by a Henschel Hs 293. Additional ships sunk by Hs 293 missiles prior to Rohna include HMHS Newfoundland, HMS LST-79, SS James W. Marshall, HMS Rockwood, HMS BYMS-72, HMS Dulverton and MV Marsa.
A memorial to the sinking was unveiled at the Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Seale, Alabama in 1996.
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- ↑ Jackson, Carlton (1997). Forgotten tragedy: the sinking of HMT Rohna By Carlton Jackson. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781557504029. http://books.google.com/books?id=6_JmAAAAMAAJ&q=USS+Pioneer#search_anchor.
- ↑ Wise, James E.; Scott Baron. Soldiers lost at sea: a chronicle of troopship disasters. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591149668. http://books.google.com/books?id=KmtozaIf5QAC&lpg=PA147&dq=hmt%20rhona&pg=PA147#v=onepage&q=hmt%20rhona&f=false.
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