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Ralph Barbiero Ralph Barbiero from BELLEAIR BEACH wrote on December 13, 2018 at 6:53 pm:
My father who served in Company C of the 96th Signal Battalion was on the Burma Road for two years.He told me about witnessing a ship sinking next to his and the horror of watching the soldiers in the water crying for help.His story had a lot of similarities with the TV documentary about the Rohna I saw so I decided to do some research.The 96th Signal Battalion joined Convoy KMF 26 aboard the HMT Banfora which departed Oran Algiers on November 23 1943.The next day the HMT Rohna joined that convoy.The 96th Signal Battalion actually boarded the Rohna by mistake the day before and were relocated to the Banfora.When the Rohna was hit it was in the middle of an air attack by 14 German aircraft and the ship closest to it was the HMT Banfora.My father, a non swimmer was offered to be on deck during the attack in case they had to abandon ship.There he stood for the entire two and a half hour battle, holding onto the ship's railing wearing his helmet and life belt and his boots unlaced for easy removal.There he watched the Roha get hit, catch fire and explode.He saw the oil soaked men in the water screaming for help and was frustrated that the convoy was under orders not to stop for anything..Looking back at this not only was I amazed to be connected to this incredible historic event through my father, but also how close he was to sharing the same fate, first by boarding the Rohna and then by the same type of guided missile missing his ship.My dad died in 1998 but researching this event caused me to reflect on the sacrifice of all members of the greatest generation and the pride I have always felt for my father and his service.Thanks for reading this.
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