HMT Rhona worst loss of US troops at sea

Mar 28, 2002
The 61st anniversary of the loss of 1,015 American troops at sea just passed.

The British troopship HMT Rohna was lost off North Africa with the deaths of 1,138 people on 26th November 1943. The 8,602-ton Rohna had departed from Oran, Algeria bound for Bombay, India via the Suez Canal, carrying a total of 2,193 (1,988 American troops, 198 crew and 7 Red Cross workers). The Rohna was one of 24 ships of Convoy KMF-26.

A "smart" bomb, which is believed to have heralded the beginning of the missile age, was fired by a German Heinkel 177. The ship exploded, caught fire and sank shortly afterwards. A total of 1,138 people died (1,015 American troops, 120 crew and 3 Red Cross workers). Because of the severity of the loss, the disaster was covered up for the rest of the war and information was only released years later after pressure from the Freedom of Information Act.

Even now, families of only 35 of the American victims know details of the disaster which claimed their loved ones. A website dedicated to the memory of the American victims, [defunct], lists the names of 1,008 of 1,015 lost and of 718 of 973 survivors.

There are at least two memorials - at the North African Cemetery at Carthage, near Tunis, Tunisia and a monument dedicated on Memorial Day 1996 at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, Seales, Alabama.

Diane M Luginsland

My father witnessed the tragedy of the HMT Rohna while on an US Army transport to India. He obeyed his command and never discussed what he had witnessed until his death in 2007.

Diane M. Luginsland

Daniel Heironymus

If anyone has any information on cpl Wallace Heironymus please contact me at [email protected] I would greatly appreciate it, since we have found out he was alive after the ship sunk. Thank you Dan Heironymus.


My Uncle Mike was on the ship along side the Rhona, the HMT Banfor. He too never uttered a word about this until recently. He said the Germans evidently (with present day knowledge of course)used radio controlled guided missiles for the first time. Several of the missiles were aimed at the Banfor but luckily missed. One did come close enough to clip the antennae. The US military knew the significance of this and did not want: #1 the Germans to know how effective this weapon was (or could have been) and #2 did not want to panic the American public and the allies.
My Uncle said a "missile" blew a hole in the Rhona at least 100 feet wide and it sank within minutes. He saw the whole thing from a few hundred yards away and still has nightmares about it 69 years later !!

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