Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trooper Roy Rogers, 7th RTR, WW2

(Top): N.V.A. (West Cumbria Branch) Memorial Plaque
St Nicholas' Church Gardens, Whitehaven

(Bottom): Trooper Roy S. Rogers (1922 - 2011)
7th Royal Tank Regiment in WW2
Normandy Veterans Association

Photographs by J. Ritson

During WW2 Trooper Roy Stewart Rogers served with the 7th Royal Tank Regiment (7th R.T.R) in N.W. Europe. After the war Roy joined the Normandy Veterans Association (West Cumbria Branch) and for many years was the Branch's Standard Bearer. He passed away on 21 June 2011, at the age of 89.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(1) Brief summary of WW2 service & NVA service

Name: Roy Stewart Rogers
Service No: 5350551
Rank: Trooper
Regiment / Unit: 7th Royal Tank Regiment,
"A/A troop, H.Q. Squadron" & "C Squadron"

Overseas service: N.W. Europe

Landed: 'Gold Beach', Normandy

(2) Normandy & N.W. Europe (1944)

Trooper Roy S. Rogers and his squadron were due to land on 16 June 1944 (D + 10). Being held back a few days they landed on a shingle beach near Arromanches ('Gold Beach') and, according to Roy, were "... raring to go!" At this stage, Roy was with the 'A/A troop' (Anti-Aircraft), "H.Q. Squadron", 7th R.T.R. ('Crusader Tanks'). These tanks had two Oerlikon 20 mm guns for anti-aircraft use.

However, because of Allied air superiority in Normandy hardly there were hardly any German aircraft overhead during the daytime. Consequently, they did not see much in the way of action at this stage. This led to the 'A/A troop' being disbanded at the end of June 1944. According to Roy, all the 'A/A' crews were transferred to "C Squadron" (Churchill Tanks). 7th R.T.R then formed part of 31st Tank Brigade (an Independent Armoured Brigade). This time, they did see action - indeed they were involved in some of the toughest battles of the Normandy campaign.

During the key battle for Caen Roy's tank hit a mine and, although none of the occupants were killed, they were all "singed"! Basically they all received petrol burns, and in Roy's case, because of the flash, he also had to receive treatment to his eyes. However, they all soon recovered and continued in the Liberation of France and N.W. Europe.

Roy and his squadron were also involved in another tough battle for Le Havre: Operation Astoria (10 September 1944) in which 35 tanks of the first wave were destroyed. Roy lost a lot of good friends from the 7th R.T.R. On 25 September 1944 a memorial service was held at Le Havre for all the men of the 7th R.T.R. who had died in its Liberation. It would not be the last memorial service that Trooper Roy Rogers would attend. These friends would never be forgotten.

Eventually, the Allies in N.W. Europe made their way to Germany. In the case of 7th R.T.R., they crossed the Rhine on 25 March 1945 and were once again in action near Mehr and Bochalt (east of the Rhine river). Joining up with the 4th R.T.R., the 7th took part in the Capture of Bremen (April 1945). After the German surrender and V.E. Day, 7th R.T.R. remained as a tank regiment in the Rhineland until 1946. However, once the war was over, in the summer of 1945 Trooper Roy Rogers managed to get leave to return to 'dear old Blighty': his wedding day!

Thursday, 30 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(3) Leaving the war behind

Roy had met his future wife, Jean (nee Mulcaster) during the war while she was serving in the A.T.S. Jean Mulcaster hailed from the village of Cleator, Cumberland (now Cumbria). Thus, on 9 August 1945, Roy and Jean were able to put the war behind them and were married at St Leonard's Parish Church, Cleator (Church of England). After Roy's discharge, the new Mr and Mrs Rogers set up home in West Cumberland: firstly at Cleator, then Cleator Moor, Frizington and eventually at Egremont. They had many happy years together until Jean passed away in 2003.

In civilian life Roy had originally trained as a stonemason. However, on moving to West Cumberland Roy worked for most of his life for Kangol (hat makers), retiring after 40 years service. Roy and Jean had two sons and one daughter. Roy was also a member of Egremont Royal British Legion.

One of his favourite films was Darryl F. Zanuck's 'The Longest Day' about the Allied Landings in Normandy on D-Day (6 June 1944). Roy did not count this as a particular favourite because it was an accurate depiction of what really happened. War, for those who have lived through it, is possibly too dreadful to portray on film. Rather, Roy liked 'The Longest Day' because it portrayed the Normandy Landings as it should have been. This is an important insight from someone who understood the true reality of war.

When the Normandy Veterans Association founded a Branch in West Cumbria (Branch No 51) Roy became its Standard Bearer from 1988 until ill-health meant he had to stand down in August 2002. On 2 December 2002 the West Cumbria Branch presented Roy with the special N.V.A. plaque in gratitude for his time as Standard Bearer.

Roy visited Normandy several times, including the 60th anniversary commemorations in 2004 when he was presented with a commemorative medal by M. Patrick Gomont (Mayor of Bayeux) at Bayeux Town Hall. In return, the Branch selected Roy to hand over a plaque from the Mayor of Workington, Cumbria (Mr Richard Jones) to the Mayor of Bayeux, Calvados, Normandy (M. Patrick Gomont). Roy proudly wore the medal he received at Bayeux in 2004 at the V.J. Parade marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the war in his hometown of Egremont (August 2005).

In January 2010 Roy was one of the Normandy Veterans from West Cumbria presented with a medal issued by the Normandy (France) Council for Veterans marking the 65th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. The presentation of these medals, and a commemorative certificate of appreciation from the people of West Cumbria, was made by Jamie Reed Member of Parliament for Copeland.

The Normandy Veterans Association (West Cumbria Branch) Memorial can be seen in upper photograph (above). This is situated in St Nicholas' Church Gardens, Whitehaven. The photograph of Roy also seen above was taken adjacent to this N.V.A. memorial. It was always a special place for Roy and his fellow Normandy Veterans to remember those who lost their lives during WW2.

Friday, 01 July, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(4) A sad, but fond, farewell.

Roy passed away at the West Cumberland Hospital on 21 June 2011: the 'longest day' of the year. Roy is survived by his sons Stuart and Christian , 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Roy's funeral service took place at Distington Crematorium on 29 June 2011. It was led by Reverend Canon Dr Richard Pratt the Rector of Egremont and Archdeacon of West Cumberland. During his eulogy, Reverend Pratt recited the words of the 23rd Psalm ("The Lord is my Shepherd"). This was a hymn whose words had proved so comforting to Roy and many of his pals during the war.

Among those paying their last respects were some of Roy's friends from the Egremont Branch of the Royal British Legion. Towards the end of the service a bugler played "The Last Post" while the Egremont British Legion Standard, carried by Standard Bearer Mr John Edwards, was lowered in respect. Two of Roy's favourite wartime songs were also played at the service: two forward-looking songs of optimism, "Pack Up Your Troubles" and "We'll Meet Again".

Roy Stewart Rogers (1922 - 2011), R.I.P.
He will be fondly remembered by family and his many friends.

(5) Further Reading

(a) For more information about 7th R.T.R. (as well as the 4th R.T.R.) during 1944 - 1945:

Click here (1)

(b) To read the BBC "People's War" story about Trooper Roy Rogers, which has a photograph of Roy before the V.J. 60th anniversary parade at Egremont (August 2005):

Click here (2)

(c) To read the BBC "People's War" story about the V.J. 60th anniversary "Veterans' March" which has a photograph of roy marching with his fellow Normandy Veterans:

Click here (3)

(d) To read Roy's obituary by Mrs Margaret Crosby in the 'News & Star' (a local West Cumbrian evening newspaper):

Click here (4)

Friday, 01 July, 2011  

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