August 24, 1907 (Brooklyn, NY) – November 27, 1943; 36 years old; married to Camilla Baxter Sloat who was born in Rowayton, CT and moved back to South Beach Drive around 1946; one son Marshall
Service number: O-509398
31ST SIGNAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION
Awarded the Purple Heart Medal
Walter was a passenger on the His Majesty’s Transport (HMT) Rohna. The Rohna and four other troop ships left Oran, French Algeria with cargo and troops. Off Béjaïa, Algeria the convoy was attacked by an estimated 60 German Luftwaffe Heinkel 177’s. Hit by a glide bomb that struck Rohna on her port side and she eventually sank. 1,138 men were killed, including 1,015 U.S. personnel. The attack is the largest loss of US troops at sea due to enemy action in a single incident. 35 U.S. troops of the 2,000 originally embarked later died of wounds. At about 1715–1725, during second wave attacks, Rohna was hit by an Hs-293, the only one of the 42 launched to score a direct hit on its target, although there were numerous other near misses on the escorts and the convoy ships. The bomb hit Rohna’s port side, penetrated deep into the ship on delayed-fuse, and blew holes in the starboard side, quickly causing the ship to list to starboard. About 300 U.S. Army troops were killed in the blast or never made it off the ship. The bomb hit about 15-inches above the waterline, but nevertheless the starboard holes flooded the engine room, knocking out electrical power, including to the pumps, and set the Number 4 hold on fire. The blast also destroyed six of 22 lifeboats, and buckled plates on the port side so that no boats on the port side could be launched. Ultimately, only eight lifeboats could be launched, which turned out not to be in very good condition to begin with. All but two of the lifeboats that did get in the water were quickly overloaded, swamped and sunk.
Walter was declared “Missing In Action” in this sinking during the war.
HMT Rohna from history.com
Memorialized in family plot at Putnam Cemetery, Greenwich, CT; Section A, Lot 236SW.