What kind of 50-year-old secret could be held from the public? If you stop and think your imagination could go wild with ideas. Mine did, then I learned what the secret was. If you’re like me you may find this disturbing, leaving you confused, angry and sad. As a parent with a child in the military, I can’t even imagine what these 2,000 families must have been going through. I’m sure for many years they felt something was missing, the truth. The sinking of the HMT Rohna by the Germans in the Mediterranean was a secret that affected so many.
November 26th – 1943 Sgt. Blair Ellis of Laurel was one of the 2,000 soldiers aboard the troop ship HMT Rohna when it was sunk by Germans in the Mediterranean. With the loss of over half the troops, including Ellis, it was so catastrophic that it was withheld from the public for over 50 years!
There’s so much more to this piece of history and all of those impacted by this tragedy. I couldn’t help but want to learn a little more about Sgt. Blair Ellis.
1930 United States Federal Census from Delaware, address listed is 439 Central Avenue, shows Wilbur P. Ellis, head of household, married, white, male, born about 1894 in Delaware and both of his parents were born in Delaware. It also shows that his occupation was listed as Assistant Sup with a chain store; he was 36 years of age. He also owned his home, was 22 years of age when first married, was able to read, write and speak English. Elsie C. Ellis, wife, married, white, female, was born about 1898 in Delaware and both of her parents were also born in Delaware. As for occupation, she was the homemaker; she was 32 years of age. She was 19 years of age when first married, also was able to speak English, read and write. There are four children listed in the household. Wilbur P. Ellis, son, single, white, male, born about 1918 in Delaware; he was 12 years of age. Richard H. Ellis, son, single, white, male, born about 1920 in Delaware; he was 10 years of age. Joseph C Ellis, son, single, white, male, born about 1921 in Delaware; he was 9 years of age. Donald B. Ellis, son, single, white, male, born about 1923 in Delaware; he was 7 years of age.
U.S. WW II Draft Cards Young Men 1940-1947, shows Donald Blair Ellis, white, 19 years of age, born 25 October 1922, born in Laurel, Sussex, Delaware. The additional description reads light complexion, brown eyes, black hair, and height is 6’1”. The employer is Howard Windsor and next of kin is Wilbur P. Ellis, his father. The date of registration is the 30th of June 1942.
Laurel Parents Learn Son Is Still Missing – Laurel, Jan. 27-Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Ellis have received further information regarding their son. Sgt. Blair Ellis, who was reported missing several weeks ago. The letter from the Adjutant General in the North African area, stated that as a result of enemy action. St. Ellis is missing from aboard ship, and that a prolonged search both air and sea have failed to reveal any tract of him. A search of the list of prisoners of was also failed to disclose his name among those captured, the information added.
 1930 United States Federal Census Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:accessed 4 April 2020) Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0019; FHL microfilm: 2340026  U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 4 April 2020) Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 21  Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com: accessed 4 April 2020) Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi )