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Hennefer, William - MM

Rank : Lance Sergeant

Army Number : 4855177

Unit : 1st Bn, 2nd Bn

Biography :

Home address given as Wolverhampton. William ('Tich') Hennefer (sometimes spelt 'Hennifer') enlisted on 5.1.1929, and served in 1st Bn The Leicestershire Regiment in India. In 1940 he was a Private stretcher-bearer in 2nd Bn in Palestine. He later served in 2nd Bn in North Africa. He was awarded the Military Medal as an Lance Sergeant for his work as a stretcher bearer in Libya, Crete and Syria Dec 1940-Aug 1941 (L.G. 30.12.1941), and was awarded a Mention in Despatches the same day. He died at sea on 5.12.1941, aged 31 - while being evacuated from Tobruk to Alexandria when SS Chakdina on which he was travelling was sunk by an Italian torpedo bomber. He is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.


The following soldiers died on the 5th December 1941 when SS Chakdina, carrying 380 wounded soldiers and 100 German and Italian POWs, was sunk by and Italian torpedo bomber while on Convoy TA.1/M en route from Tobruk to Alexandria.

The ship, which sank in just over 3 minutes, was reported to have 600 people on board, 400 of whom were lost.

ACKLEY, WILLIAM JAMES Lance Corporal 782699 05/12/1941 31 Column 59. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
BERNAYS, JOHN STEWART NOALL Lieutenant Colonel 11860 05/12/1941 48 Column 59. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
HEATH, JOHN HURST Private 4860411 05/12/1941 22 Column 60. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
HEGGS, JOSEPH Lance Corporal 4861128 05/12/1941 24 Column 59. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
HENNEFER, WILLIAM Serjeant 4855177 05/12/1941 31 Column 59. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
HURST, THOMAS HENRY Private 4856621 05/12/1941 30 Column 60. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
KING, ROLAND Private 4855573 05/12/1941 30 Column 60. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
PRATLEY, IAN LIONEL Private 4858807 05/12/1941 24 Column 60. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
STURGESS, HARRY Lance Corporal 4860439 05/12/1941 22 Column 59. ALAMEIN MEMORIAL


******HMS (or sometimes SS) Chakdina (3,033 GRT) was an armed boarding vessel commandeered by the Royal Navy and acting as a hospital ship (my guess is not as an official hospital ship however). She was sunk shortly after leaving Tobruk by attack from an Italian S.79 torpedo bomber. She carried a large number of wounded and POW, many of whom died when she sank in just three minutes. One of the POWs was German general von Ravenstein, former commander of 21. Panzerdivision. He survived. HMS Chakdina and Chantala belonged to the same owner before the war. You can see a picture of the similar HMS Chakla under air attack in Tobruk harbour at this link. Armed Boarding Vessels were a kind of armed merchant cruiser, usually armed with obsolete guns. In the case of Chakdina, Chantala, and Chakla, they were used for transporting troops and stores in and out of Tobruk, and all of them were lost on the Tobruk Run.

Date of Birth : 1910

Place of Birth : Staffordshire

Date of Death : 5.12.1941

Place of Death : at sea off Egypt

Period of Service : 1929-41

Conflicts : WW2

Places Served : Libya, Crete, Syria, Egypt

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