b. 04/09/1834 Dublin, Ireland. d. 05/02/1895 Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Robert Montresor Rogers (1834-1895) was born in Dublin, Ireland on 4th September 1834 and joined the 44th Regiment of Foot in February 1855. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1855, and was soon posted to the Crimea where he served in the latter stages of the siege and fall of Sebastopol. He was awarded both the Crimean Medal with clasp and the Turkish War Medal for his service in that campaign. Following the Crimea, he was posted to take part in the China Campaign of 1860.
When, in 1860, the Chinese emperor declined to reply to a note demanding an apology for firing on British ships and his government’s failure to act on the provisions of the Treaty of Tientsin, a combined Anglo-French task force was sent to enforce compliance. The aim of the expedition was to force the Chinese from the Taku Forts positioned at the mouth of the Pei-ho river. In overall command of the assault was Major General Sir Robert Napier whose task was to expel the Chinese from the well defended Small North Fort.
At 06:00 on 21 August 1860, Napier gave the signal for the asault to begin. The attackers surged forward crossing a dry ditch and pouring through the abatis that had been smashed by the artillery. Two wet ditches were then crossed with great difficulty and upon reaching the fort’s wall the French erected ladders only to have them thrown down by the defenders. The troops, whose units had inevitably become intermingled, were crowded together at the base of the wall, being pelted with grenades, cannon shot, jars of quicklime and ‘stinkpots’ that gave off clouds of smoke. Desperate measures were needed urgently if the assault was to succeed. Close to the gate was Lieutenant Nathaniel Burslem and an Irishman, Private Thomas Lane, both of the 67th Regiment, who scrambled up to a narrow embrasure which they proceeded to widen, both sustaining serious wounds.
Not far away were Lieutenant Robert Rogers and Private John McDougall of the 44th Regiment who had swum the wet ditches, together with Lieutenant Edmund Lenon and Ensign John Chaplin both of the 67th, the latter carring the Queen’s Colour of the regiment. Lenon pushed his sword deep into the mud wall, supporting the hilt while Rogers used it as a step, fighting his way into the embrasure above. More men pushed their bayonets into the wall, creating a ladder up which Lenon, Chaplin and McDougall and others clambered up to join Rogers. At about the same time Burslem and Lane broke through their embrasure on to the ramparts. Men from both regiments then swarmed through the embrasures fighting their way at the point of the bayonet up the tower’s ramp enabling Chaplin to plant his Colour on the summit. The will of the Chinese, who until this point had fought stubbornly, suddenly collapsed and it was estimated that of the fort’s 500-strong garrison, 400 were either killed or wounded.
Following the end of the campaign, he was promoted to Captain, and his recommendation for the Victoria Cross was published on 13th August 1861. Robert Rogers was invested with his Victoria Cross by CinC India, Sir Hugh Rose, in Bengal, India, on the 22nd November 1862. Rogers was promoted to Major in 1873, and commanded the 90th Light Infantry throughout the Zulu War of 1879. He was present at the engagements at Zunyin Nek and Kambula. He was created a Companion of Bath, and retired as a Major-General. He died at home in Maidenhead, Berkshire on Tuesday, 5th February 1895. He was laid to rest in All Saints Churchyard, Maidenhead. His medals were sold on 25th November 2010 at auction at Spinks, London. The medals were purchased for £180,000 by the Ashcroft Collection, and they are now displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD, MAIDENHEAD, BERKSHIRE.
Kevin Brazier – Image of the Rogers VC Grave in All Saints Churchyard, Maidenhead, Berkshire.