b. 04/07/1873 Moama, NSW, Australia. d. 28/10/1961 Sydney, NSW, Australia.
James Rogers (1873-1961) was born on 4th July 1873, at Woodside Farm, Moama, New South Wales, son of Welsh-born John Rogers, farmer, and his wife Sarah Louisa, née Johnstone, from Sydney. Rogers was educated locally at public schools. In 1886 his family moved to Heywood, Victoria, where he later worked on his father’s farm and joined the local company of the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1898. He was 6 ft 2 ins (188 cm) tall, 12 stone (76 kg) and a superb horseman, tough bushman and crack rifle-shot.
When the South African War broke out Rogers enlisted and in November 1899 disembarked at Cape Town as a private, 1st Victorian Mounted Infantry Company. On 1st May 1900 he was seconded as a corporal to the Provincial Mounted Police, Orange River Colony. Instead of returning home with the Victorian Contingent in November he joined the South African Constabulary as a sergeant. In June 1901 he was part of its No.6 Troop, commanded by Lieutenant Frank Dickinson. The troop joined a 200-man column of the Royal Irish Rifles which patrolled from Thaba’Nchu to Tabaksberg in search of Boer forces. On the return march, about ten miles (16 km) north of Hout Nek, the column came under Boer sniper fire. Dickinson with six men, including Rogers, waited in ambush at a kraal while the column returned to camp.
They surprised the Boers and then Dickinson withdrew his men to rejoin the column. About two miles from it sixty Boers tried to cut them off. When Dickinson’s horse was shot Rogers, despite heavy enemy fire, rode back, pulled him up behind him on his horse and carried him out of danger. Rogers returned twice more to rescue two men who had let go of their horses when they had dismounted to fire. He then caught and led back to the firing line two horses which had escaped from other men. He returned to Australia late in 1901 and Dickinson recommended that his gallantry be recognized; Rogers was awarded the Victoria Cross on 18 April 1902, having previously been mentioned in despatches.
Rogers received his medal from the Governor-General of Australia, Lord Tennyson, on 18th September 1902 in Melbourne. A month later he again left for South Africa as a lieutenant with the 6th Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse. However, the war had ended and the battalion returned home. Rogers tried to obtain a commission in the Australian Military Forces but was unsuccessful. After buying and then selling a farm at Yea, Victoria, he returned to South Africa where he served as a special detective with the Cape Police until February 1904. On 25th April 1907, describing himself as a mounted trooper, he married Ethel Maud Seldon at Portland, Victoria; they had two sons. By 1912 Rogers was a marker at Williamstown rifle range and by the outbreak of World War I he was an assistant ranger there. On 6th December 1914 he was commissioned in the 3rd Light Horse Brigade Train, Australian Army Service Corps, Australian Imperial Force. He was seriously wounded at Gallipoli on 4th August 1915 and evacuated to Egypt. He then served with the Anzac Provost Corps before returning to Australia on 18th July 1916.
Rogers resumed work at Williamstown as a range assistant, then in 1921 became an assistant storeman, Ordnance Branch, A.M.F., Victoria. He resigned in 1922 and resumed farming. He lived at Kew, Melbourne, for over thirty years; then, after his wife died, with his one surviving son at Roseville, Sydney. He died in Concord Repatriation Hospital on 28 October 1961, and was cremated with military honours at Springvale Crematorium, Melbourne. His name is commemorated on a memorial cairn at Heywood. His Victoria Cross is on display in the Hall of Valour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA.
BURIAL PLACE: SPRINGVALE CEMETERY, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA. ASHES.
Richard Yielding – Image of the Rogers VC Plaque at Springvale Cemetery and Crematorium.
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of the Rogers VC Medal Group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.