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Rogers, Robert Harry Doherty

Date of birth:
1921 (Warden/Orange Free State, South Africa)
Date of death:
June 4th, 2000 (Cape Town/Western Cape, South Africa)
Nationality:
South African

Biography

Before joining the South African Air Force Rogers studied medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand until mid-1940. After initially qualifying as an air gunner he volunteered to train as a pilot in Southern Rhodesia.
He served as a tactical reconnaissance pilot in North Africa with the No. 208 Squadron, and on his second tour of duty he served with No. 40 Squadron, SAAF, in North Africa and Italy. While flying Hurricanes and Spitfires, he was shot down once and had a finger shot off while fighting German Bf109's. His cool manner under pressure, naturalleadership abilities and efficiency saw him promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and placed in command of 225 Sqd, RAF. Towards the end of WWII, Rogers was put in charge of his old squadron, 40 Sqn, SAAF.
After the war, Rogers accepted a permanent commission in the SAAF with the rank of captain, and in 1951 and again in 1953 he served with the SAAF's 2 Squadron in Korea as a fighter bomber in Mustangs and F86 Sabres.
He was awarded the American DFC, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Korean Chungmu Decoration with Gold Star.
He went on to hold various command and staff posts, and at the end of 1974 he was appointed Acting Chief of the Air Force. He was appointed Lieutenant-General in March 1975.
For service in the SAAF, he was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa, the Southern Cross Medal and the Chief of Defence Force Commendation (now known as the Medal of Military Merit).
After his retirement in 1979 as Chief of the SA Air Force, he became active in civic, parliamentary and other spheres. As an MP, he became the Democratic Party's spokesman on defence.

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Periode:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant
Unit:
No. 208 Squadron, Royal Air Force (No. 208 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
Awarded on:
October 6th, 1942
Action:
Recommendation:
"Lieutenant Rogers, 208 Squadron, was detailed on 15.8.1942 to carry out a Tactical Reconnaissance on the Front from the coast to Siba Depression. The enemy has for sometime been energetically denying reconnaissance of the area and strong fighter opposition was to be expected. This Officer had one Hurricane accompanying him. Towards completion of the task these two Hurricanes were intercepted by four Me. 109s. In the ensuing engagement the accompanying Hurricane was quickly hit in the engine and forced to land. Lieutenant Rogers then fought the four enemy fighters who attacked him repeatedly. One shot severed the throttle control at the same time shooting away the Pilot's little finger and the top joint of the third finger of his left hand. In spite of these injuries and with only half the throttle control remaining he continued to fight and in the end successfully outmanoeuvred the enemy and landed at his aerodrome. There in spite of injuries and loss of blood, he completed a most valuable report before reporting for medical attention. Lieutenant Rogers displayed fighting skill and courage of the highest order and set a fine example of devotion to duty."
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Periode:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant
Awarded on:
January 1st, 1943
Mentioned in Despatches
Periode:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
No. 40 Squadron, South African Air Force (No. 40 Squadron, South African Air Force)
Awarded on:
January 25th, 1944
Action:
Recommendation:
"This Officer has completed 102 Tactical Reconnaissance flights during two tours of duty. In August 1941 he joined 208 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron R.A.F. and during his tour with the Squadron did 46 operational flights. In an engagement with enemy fighters during the 46th operation, while over Alamein, he was wounded and his aircraft badly damaged. He managed to bring his aircraft safely home and landed successfully with valuable information. He was then sent back to the Union to rest and recover from his wound. For his courage, determination and devotion to duty on this first tour he was awarded the D.F.C.

In January 1943, Lieutenant Rogers returned to the Middle East and joined 40 Squadron at Marble Arch. During the advance to Tunis, the invasion of Sicily and recently in Italy, he has completed a further 56 operational flights. The oblique Photographic Reconnaissance done by him of the East Coast of Sicily, and subsequently of the West Coast of the toe of Italy, at extremely low level, have been of outstanding value to the Army and have earned for him the personal thanks and congratulations of the 13th Corps Commander.

On 12 August 1943, during a heavy enemy bombing raid at Francesco, a petrol dump was set on fire. Major Rogers collected several N.C.Os and Air Mechanics and with complete disregard for danger or injury to himself, commenced rolling away petrol drums from the fire while the raid was still on. His prompt action and initiative resulted in the major portion of the petrol being saved.

On 20 August 1943, he did some brilliant spotting for H.M.S. Uganda, which enabled her to put out of action a Coastal Defence gun position South of Reggio, Calabria. This Officer was promoted to Flight Commander on 8 March 1943 and acted, very ably, as Commanding Officer during a month's period of domestic trouble in the Squadron during the C.Os and 2nd I.Cs absence. He was promoted to 2nd in Command in August 1943. His magnificent example and leadership during the present tour has been a source of pride and inspiration to his Pilots."
Details:
Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Periode:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant-Colonel
Unit:
No. 40 Squadron, South African Air Force (No. 40 Squadron, South African Air Force)
Awarded on:
August 21st, 1945
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Action:
Recommendation:
"Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers assumed command of 40 Squadron, S.A.A.F., in August 1944. Since then he has carried out 56 operational missions involving 80.30 hours flying. Every one of these missions, which consisted of Tactical, Photographic and Artillery Reconnaissance, was carried out with great skill and determination and produced first class results.

On 23 March 1945, Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers was briefed to carry out a shoot with 54th Super Heavy Regiment on some heavy A.A. guns near Massa Lombarda. On approaching the target area, these guns opened up on his aircraft. He commenced immediately to range our own guns onto the enemy and through his skill, coolness and presence of mind, scored in a very short space of time, five rounds between the four gunpits, one of which actually landed in a gunpit, destroying the gun and starting a cordite fire. He then proceeded effectively to engage and destroy two camouflaged field guns in the immediate vicinity.

Again, on 18 April 1945, a request was received from 8th Army for an oblique line overlap of ten miles of the Canale Bianco between the Po and Adige rivers. This mission had to be performed at 5000 feet, flying straight and level through what was known to be a heavily defended area, at a constant speed of 230 m.p.h. Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers decided to carry out this mission himself, knowing it to be a dangerous one, and by his skilful flying brought back excellent photographs of the whole area required.

As a leader, he was magnificent, and on many occasions he persevered with Artillery Reconnaissance missions in the face of intense Anti-Aircraft fire. If ever there was a difficult task to be performed, Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers invariably did it himself, and never failed to complete it, whatever the opposition. It is true to say that all ranks of the Wing have tremendous admiration for his steadfast courage and devotion to duty, and his untiring efforts in the air and on the ground are greatly responsible for the efficiency of the Squadron which he commands. I cannot speak too highly of the ability of this Officer both as a Tactical Reconnaissance Pilot and Squadron Commander, and strongly recommend him for a non-immediate award of the D.S.O."

Sources

  • - The London Gazette Issue 35309 published on the 14 October 1941
    - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35731 published on the 2 October 1942
    - Second Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35841 published on the 29 December 1942
    - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36346 published on the 21 January 1944
    - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 37233 published on the 17 August 1945
    - Christies
    - The South African Air Force