William Richard (Dick) ROGERS DCM, MM and Bar

ROGERS, William Richard

Service Number: 2699
Enlisted: 21 June 1915, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 16th Infantry Battalion (WW1)
Born: Brighton, Victoria, Australia, 10 June 1888
Home Town: Subiaco, Nedlands, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Sleeper cutter
Died: Killed In Action, France, 8 August 1918, aged 30 years
Cemetery: Heath Cemetery, Picardie
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

21 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2699, Perth, Western Australia
2 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2699, 16th Infantry Battalion (WW1), Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '12' embarkation_place: Fremantle embarkation_ship: HMAT Anchises embarkation_ship_number: A68 public_note: ''
2 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2699, 16th Infantry Battalion (WW1), HMAT Anchises, Fremantle
17 Jul 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 16th Infantry Battalion (WW1), "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"
Date unknown: Involvement 16th Infantry Battalion (WW1), Battle for Pozières

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

William Richard Rogers became a sleeper-cutter in the karri country of south-west Western Australia. Rogers enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force after reports of Gallipoli had begun to appear in the newspapers. He reached Gallipoli on 23 October with the 8th Reinforcements for the 16th Battalion, in which fellow timber-cutter Harry Murray and Murray's prospector friend Percy Black were serving.

The fighting abilities and conduct of William Rogers came to official notice during the 1st battle of Bullecourt in France where on 11 April 1917 the 16th Battalion, as part of the 4th Brigade, tore through unbroken barbed wire, across snow-covered country under fierce gunfire, to breach the Hindenburg line. Major Black was killed while leading his troops, including Rogers, through the wire. Later, in front of Riencourt village, after tanks had failed and without artillery support, the attackers were left without ammunition. Rogers, from 'A' Company, many times left trench cover under heavy machine-gun fire to snatch bombs from the pockets of dead soldiers lying in the barbed wire. Only 3 of the battalion's 17 officers and 87 of 630 other ranks were not killed or wounded. Rogers won the Military Medal for his part in the battle and was promoted from private to sergeant on 21 April.

On 26 September the battalion fought in the battle of Polygon Wood, near Passchendaele. When his platoon commander was killed Rogers immediately took command and, 'with fine courage and excellent leadership' under heavy shell-fire, successfully led the platoon through its allotted duties in minimum time. When the rest of the unit lost contact with his position he took personal risks to correct the situation. He was awarded a Bar to his Military Medal and on 3 October was promoted temporary company sergeant major; this rank was confirmed on 3 January 1918. From January to May he attended an officer cadet battalion but resigned to rejoin his unit on 23 May.

Rogers won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry during the battle of Hamel on 4 July. He contributed to his battalion's success by quick appreciation of the situation when the infantry lagged behind the creeping artillery barrage because of the need to deal with enemy machine-gun posts. He repeatedly moved backwards and forwards from the barrage to bring the men up. After the battle he was commissioned second lieutenant. This quiet, self-effacing soldier survived until 8 August 1918 when he was killed by a shell from a German field-gun while leading his men into Morcourt Valley at the start of the great offensive. He was buried in Heath cemetery, Harbonnières, France.

Information from Suzanne Welborn, 'Rogers, William Richard (1888–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography.



"Mrs. Rogers, of 365 Roberts-road, Subiaco, has received word that her husband, 2nd Lieut. W. R. Rogers, of the 16th Battalion, was killed in action on August 8."- from the Perth Daily News 20 Aug 1918 (nla.gov.au)

"ROGERS.- Killed in action, France, August 8, 1918 2nd Lieutenant W. R. Rogers, dearly loved husband of Alice Rogers, 365 Roberts- road, Subiaco. After three years' service.

ROGERS.- Killed in action, on August 8, 2nd Lieutenant. W. R. Rogers (Dick), only son of the late Mrs. A. Rogers; loving brother of Mesdames Woodgate, Bettles, and Ashby, Misses Jean, Clara, and Amy Rogers." - from the Perth Western Mail 23 Aug 1918 (nla.gov.au)