628692 Corporal William Rogers, M.M. and Bar, 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry
Born on 26th May 1885 in Little Gaddesden
Died on 21st October 1958 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
William Rogers was born in Little Gaddesden, the youngest of the 4 children of James William Rogers and Hannah née Dean. His father was a Scullery Man at Ashridge House.
William’s brother Herbert Dean Rogers was born on 31st January 1878, his sister Matilda Fanny on 4th June 1880 and his sister Alice on 5th December 1881.
In the 1881 Census, the village houses are not numbered, but the position of the family’s entry in the Census suggests No 28 Little Gaddesden. However, by 1891, when house numbers are shown, they lived at 30 Little Gaddesden.
On 28th October 1889, William Rogers entered Little Gaddesden School as an Infant aged 4½. However, he must have been absent for some time that winter, as the Log Book for 17th March 1890 notes that “Little William Rogers has turned up again after a very long absence.”
The Little Gaddesden School Log Book includes the following entry for 25th April 1894:
I very much regret to learn that at the latter end of last week William Rogers, while at play with two other boys (all on their way home) fell & broke his arm. The limb has been set by Dr. Bontor & is going on well.
Little Gaddesden School had a Diocesan Inspection in January or February each year, during which the children were examined in Religious Knowledge. The names of those children who distinguished themselves in this examination are recorded in the School Log Book. William’s name is included in 1898.
William stayed at school until he was nearly 15 years old; the Log Book entry for 3rd May 1900 records: “William Rogers (ex St. 7) has left School. His name has been removed.“
The 1901 Census shows 15 year old William as a Carpenter’s Apprentice living at Ashridge Woodyard Cottage with his mother Hannah, 51 and his sister Alice, 19, who were both Dressmakers working at home. On Census night, his married sister Matilda, 20, her husband Septimus Fitt, 24, a Railway Boiler Smith and their 2 month old son Henry were also staying. William’s father James, 52, was absent from home; he was the Scullery Man then resident at Ashridge House.
On 18th August 1907 in Berkhamsted, William Rogers married Constance Edna Cooter of the Parish of St John’s, Boxmoor. Then, on 13th September that year, 22 year old William, a Carpenter and 21 year old Edna emigrated to Canada. They left the Port of London for Montreal and their intended ultimate destination was Vancouver, British Columbia.
William and Edna had three sons, all born in Vancouver. They were: John Arthur Rogers, born in 1909, James Frederick Rogers, born in 1913 and William Rogers, born in 1915.
Service with the Westminster Fusiliers of Canada 8
William’s Canadian Expedition Force Attestation Papers note that, before attesting for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he served briefly in the Canada Militia with the 104th Regiment, Westminster Fusiliers of Canada.
On 3rd November 1915, William Rogers, a Carpenter aged 30 years 6 months of South Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, Canada attested for the Canadian Expeditionary Force at New Westminster. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall with a 37 inch chest and he had a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes. On his Attestation Paper his wife is named as Anna rather than Edna, but his CEF Personnel File shows that this was an error. William served in the 47th Battalion, Canadian Infantry as a Private, Service Number 628692. That Battalion was initially known as the 47th Battalion (British Columbia) C.E.F. but later re-named the 47th Battalion (Western Ontario) C.E.F.
On 13th November 1915, William sailed with the 47th Battalion, Canadian Infantry aboard SS Missanabie, arriving at Plymouth on 22nd November. The battalion remained in England until 10th August 1916 when they embarked for France. In September 1916, William undertook an 8 day Snipers’ Course ‘in the field’ in France. A year later, on 22nd September 1917, he was appointed Lance Corporal. Promotion to Corporal then followed on 8th November 1917. During this period, the Battalion’s battle honours included: The Battle of the Ancre, Arras, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and the 3rd Battle of Ypres, (Passchendaele).
On 11th August 1918, during the Battle of Amiens, William sustained a gunshot wound to the left hand. It fractured the base of the fifth metacarpal and left a portion of the bone missing. However, later medical notes show that the injury also affected his third finger and wrist. He was treated first at the 4th Canadian Field Ambulance before admission to No. 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen the following day. Then, on 18th August he was evacuated to England aboard the Hospital Ship Guildford Castle for further treatment. He was taken to the 1st Western General Hospital, Liverpool, where he stayed until 26th September.
However, further treatment was needed to mobilise William’s hand so he was then transferred to the Granville Canadian Special Hospital, Buxton, where he stayed until 8th January 1919. That hospital treated nerve, joint and bone problems and provided physiotherapy.
Despite that treatment, William’s injury continued to give problems. Therefore, after 3 months at Buxton, he was moved again, to No 5 Canadian General Hospital, Liverpool. Then, on 24th February 1919, he was invalided home to Canada aboard H.M.A.T. Essequibo.
The Supplement to the London Gazette 13th November 1918 recorded that:
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the Field to the. undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men:-
… Canadian Force
… 628692 Cpl. W. Rogers. W Ontario R
His Medal and Award Roll entry shows that this was awarded for service in France but no further details are given.
A Bar to the Military Medal 15
The Supplement to the London Gazette published on 11th February 1919 recorded that:
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Military Medal to the undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men:-
… 628692 Cpl. W. Rogers, M.M., 47th Western Ontario R.
Although his CEF Personnel File includes a great deal of detail, there is no information on the actions which resulted in the award of this decoration. He is the only man named on Little Gaddesden’s Roll of Honour who was awarded the M.M. and Bar.
On his return to Canada on 14th March 1919, William was admitted to the Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver. That hospital provided both medical care and rehabilitation services. However, on 12th June 1919 he was discharged from hospital prior to discharge from the Canadian Army the following day. The reason then given for his discharge was “medical unfitness“, because of “impaired function of the left hand”.
The notes in William’s CEF Personnel File also mention that he was awarded the War Service Badge Class A, No 307509 and War Service Badge Class B, No 666834. The Class A Badge recognised that he had served at the front and had been honourably discharged; the Class B Badge was awarded to:
Members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) who served in the United Kingdom or at the front, and who, due to old age, wounds or sickness, had retired or relinquished their commissions or been honourably discharged.
A further note in his Personnel File adds that William would be unable to resume his former trade as a Carpenter because he was “unable to lift reasonably heavy articles with (his left) hand”.
William Rogers, Canadian Infantry is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. On the Centenary Revision of the Roll, his Battalion has been added. His cousin Frank Rogers, Army Service Corps, is also named on both Rolls. William’s father James was the younger brother of Frank’s father Edwin. Although William had emigrated to Canada, his parents lived in Little Gaddesden until their deaths in 1925 (Hannah) and 1939 (James).
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
The 1921 Census of Canada shows William, Edna and their three sons living at 1816 66 Avenue East, Vancouver South, British Columbia. His family had moved to that address during his war service. The Census return states that William was working as a Fisherman, with his own account and gear and that the family lived in their own single house, constructed of wood. Edna’s widowed mother Caroline Hannah Cooter lived with them. All members of the family could read and write and all spoke English but not French. Their religion was Church of England.
Later Life 19
William and Edna remained in Canada for the rest of their lives. The 1935 Canada Voters List shows them living in Hammond, Fraser Valley on the Fraser River. Their sons John Arthur and James Frederick also lived there. William and both his sons were then fishermen. The 1940 Canada Voters List gives a more precise address, showing William and Edna and James Frederick and Zelda living in Dyke Road, Hammond. John A Rogers, by then a Mill Hand, and Dorothy then lived in Princess Street.
73 year old William Rogers died in Vancouver, British Columbia on 21st October 1958. He was then buried in Maple Ridge Cemetery, Greater Vancouver Regional District, near to his home in Hammond.
The inscription on his grave stone reads:
Wm Rogers MM & Bar
47 Battn. C.E.F.
21 Oct 1958 age 73
William was survived by his widow Edna, who still lived in Hammond in 1968, as did their three sons. Edna died, aged 83, on 5th May 1970. She is also buried in Maple Ridge Cemetery.
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
18. Little Gaddesden Burial Register 1925, 1939
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson