History of the Rohna
On November 26, 1943, during WWII, one thousand, one hundred and thirty eight men perished when a British troopship, the HMT Rohna, was attacked from the air and destroyed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Algeria. Two important but virtually unknown historical events occurred at that time.
It was the first successful “hit” of a merchant vessel at sea carrying US troops by a German remote-controlled, rocket-boosted bomb, thus giving birth to the “Missile Age”, and it resulted in the greatest loss of troops (1,015) at sea in U.S. history. Combined with the loss of ship’s crew and officers, and three Red Cross workers, more lives were lost than on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.
The “hit” was so devastating that the U.S. Government placed a veil of secrecy upon it. The events which followed were so shameful that the secrecy continued for decades until recently, when documents were grudgingly released under pressure of the Freedom of Information Act. The government still does not acknowledge this tragedy, thus most families of the casualties still do not know the fate of their loved ones.
In 1995, over fifty years later, a group of Rohna survivors, next-of-kin and rescuers, informally came together for the sole purpose of enabling the creation and dedication of a Rohna Memorial.
On Memorial Day, 1996, a monument was dedicated to the memory of the 1015 men who lost their lives in this incident, at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Seales, Alabama.
Four years later, The Rohna Survivors Memorial Association was more formally organized. Many of those involved in the earlier Memorial Dedication project worked diligently toward the formation of this new organization. Read more
In 1999, articles and by-laws were drawn up and the association defined its goals, which are:
- To continue in the search for survivors as-yet-undiscovered and the families of those who perished, so as to provide them with information they never had about the fate of their loved ones,
- To bring the Rohna story before the public, to honor the men who lost their lives in this incident and those on the rescue vessels who acted selflessly in their rescue efforts,
- And to further, by reunions and other communications, the closeness among the membership.