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3647 Sapper
EDWIN ROGERS
Canadian Engineers

by
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2001. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

The primary sources of information for this paper were the National Archives of Canada and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Where other sources were used, they are cited in the References section at the end of the paper.

2. EARLY LIFE

Edwin Rogers was born on the 2nd of December 1893 at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. He emigrated to Canada at an early age leaving his mother, Mrs. Grace Smith Rogers, behind in the United Kingdom. Mrs. Rogers subsequently moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she lived at 32 Calum Street. The Rogers were members of the Presbyterian Church.

3. ENLISTMENT

Attestation

Edwin Rogers worked as a Marine Fireman prior to the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 to 1918. He enlisted for service in the Great War at the Depot Squadron of the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Toronto on the 8th of June 1915. When he enlisted he indicated that he was not married, that he was not a member of the Militia nor had he had any prior naval or military service. On his enlistment papers he indicated his willingness to serve overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.[1]

Physical Description

Rogers’ Medical History Sheet provides the following information about him at the time of his enlistment:

Age:

21 years

Height:

5 feet 7 inches

Weight:

140 pounds

Chest Measurement (minimum):

37 inches

Chest Expansion (maximum):

3 inches

Physical Development:

Good

Small Pox Marks:

None

Vaccination Marks:

3 on the left arm

Marks Indicating Congenital
Peculiarities or Previous Disease:

None

Last Small Pox Vaccination:

1 January 1915

Anti-Typhoid Inoculations:

12, 17 and 22 January 1915

Rogers swore the Oath of Attestation on the same day as his enlistment and his enlistment was immediately certified by a Magistrate. With the formalities of his enlistment behind him, he became 3647 Private Edwin Rogers, Royal Canadian Dragoons.

4. CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Service in England

Private Rogers proceeded overseas with the Royal Canadian Dragoons and arrived at Canterbury in Kent on the 10th of July 1915. Since he was in England only a month after his enlistment at Toronto, he probably did not receive much training before embarking for overseas.

The time between his arrival and Canterbury and his deployment to France was probably spent on training. Canterbury had always been a large cavalry station; hence, the Royal Canadian Dragoons probably trained with other British cavalry regiments while they were there. On the 24th of August 1915 he was confined to barracks for seven days and forfeited seven days pay for an infraction the nature of which is unspecified in his service record.

Service in France

Rogers was sent to France on the 14th of January 1916, where he was assigned to the Headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Division. He was further assigned to the 3rd Canadian Division Signal Company, Canadian Engineers on the following day. As a result of joining this unit, his rank was changed from Private to Sapper, but his Regimental Number remained the same as it was when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Sapper Rogers’ first action with the 3rd Canadian Division Signal Company took place at Mount Sorrel between the 2nd and the 13th of June 1916.[2] On the morning of the 2nd the Germans delivered a heavy attack at Mount Sorrel and penetrated the 3rd Division’s lines to a depth of 700 yards. There was intense shelling about Sanctuary Wood and at Hooge, and even as far back as Maple Copse behind Sanctuary Wood causing heavy casualties among the support battalion. The bombardment cost the Canadians two general officers – the 3rd Division’s Commander, Major General M.S. Mercer, C.B., and Brigadier General V.A.S. Williams. The heavy shelling so far to the rear must have caused Rogers considerable concern, as this was his first major action since arriving at the front. A counter attack by the Canadian on the morning of the 3rd of September had some success, but the shell-swept area was quite untenable without proper defence works. Into this holocaust filtered the word of the death at sea, in the sinking of H.M.S. Hampshire, of Field Marshal Earl Kitchener, the Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Engineers, who was on a diplomatic mission to Russia.[3]

On the 13th of June the 1st Canadian Division, with the 3rd Canadian Division in support, made a successful attack on Mount Sorrel and on the 16th of June the 3rd Division relieved the 1st Division on the front line.[4]

Rogers was not engaged in another major action until the battle at Flers-Courcelette, which began on the 15th of September 1916. Unfortunately, this was to be his last battle. Orders were received for a major assault – an advance on a 10-mile front centering on Flers-Courcelette. Five Corps, including the Canadian Corps were to take part in this assault. The Canadian objective was the town of Courcelette on the left center of the advance. The 3rd Division’s objective was to support the main attack of the 2nd Division on Courcelette with the specific task of bringing strong pressure to bear on the German forces at Mouquet Farm. The farm fell to the division on the night of 16th/17th September.[5]

As the infantry and field company sappers consolidated the new positions gained during the attack in the forward areas, behind the main battle line, about the busy headquarters areas of Tara and Usna Hills, facilities were steadily improved, especially signals and dugouts.[6] It was in the area of Usna Hill, north east of Albert, that Sapper Rogers was killed in action on the 20th of September 1916. He was most likely killed by enemy shellfire while working on establishing communications lines near the headquarters of the 3rd Division. Rogers was buried in Grave 28, Plot 1, Row "O" of the Albert Communal Cemetery Extension.[7]

Campaign Medals

For his service in the Great War, Edwin Rogers’ family was awarded his British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Cross.[8]

ADDENDUM

Edwin Rogers had a brother named Walter who served as a Private (Regimental Number 25888) in the 20th (Reserve) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. Walter Rogers died at home on the 13th of August 1916. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register shows that Grace S. Rogers of 32, Caldrum Street, Dundee was Walter’s mother. She is also shown as Edwin’s mother on his page of the CWGC Register. In addition to his mother’s name, the CWGC Register page for Walter also indicates that his father was the late Edwin Rogers. Edwin was 22 years old when he died and Walter was 21 years old. Edwin obviously had been named after his father. Walter died on the 13th of August 1916 and Edwin died on the 20th of September 1916. Poor Mrs. Rogers lost both of her sons in a little over a month.

REFERENCES:

1. Service Papers of Edwin Rogers, National Archives of Canada, including the following documents:

a. Attestation Paper, Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.

b. Record of Service.

c. Medical History Sheet.

d. Casualty Form.

e. Medal Index Card.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Albert Communal Cemetery Extension, Index
No. Fr. 430.

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Internet Web Site.

4. Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers Journal. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.

5. KERRY, A.J. & McDILL, W.A. The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, 1749-1939. Volume I. The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1962.

 ENDNOTES

[1] Attestation Paper.

[2] Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.

[3] KERRY & McDILL, p. 111.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., p. 117.

[6] Ibid., p. 118.

[7] Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

[8] All of these medals are in the author’s collection