William Frederick Rogers
Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps
William Frederick Rogers was the son of Mr and Mrs Rogers of 65, Swainstone Road, Reading. Both his parents were dead, his father for many years, before the death of William. His mother, Hannah Rogers died 28th February 1912, aged 52. Lieutenant Rogers is buried with his mother in the Reading Cemetery the grave number is 15645. He is remembered as a dear brother. The lettering is very indistinct and currently the grave is not listed among the registered war graves for the cemetery.
William Rogers was born at Henley-on-Thames his family moved to Reading when he was about fourteen. William lived in Reading for five years before emigrating to Canada where he became an engineer, later he moved to the USA where he took up motor-cycle riding. Rogers returned to England in November 1914 and joined a Canadian Regiment in London. Later he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, in which he obtained his commission, initially as a Sub-Lieutenant although he very quickly rose to a full Lieutenant when his abilities were realised. He held his pilot’s certificate three to four weeks before he died and was regarded as one of the best pilots in his squad.
Details of the death of Lieutenant Rogers were given in an article published in the Reading Chronicle on 7th January 1916. William was aged 24 when he was killed in a flying accident whilst flying at Fort Grange, Gosport, on 28th December 1915. The article gives details of the accident in which William Rogers lost his life:
“Lieutenant Rogers was making a flight with a new Curtiss machine when he was killed. The machine, which was at a low altitude, being no more than 150 feet up, was seen making a nose dive to earth, and it fell heavily, burying its fore-part in the ground. Help was quickly at hand and Lieut. Rogers was found in his machine unconscious. He was taken out of it, but death had taken place before the doctor’s arrival. Immediately the deceased commenced the flight it was observed that he was not comfortable in the machine, and it is said that he turned it when too near the ground. At the inquest which was held a verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.”
The body of William Rogers was brought by train from Gosport accompanied by many of his fellow officers. At the railway station the funeral cortège was met by relations and friends. The coffin was covered with a Union Jack and the mourners then walked in procession to the Reading Cemetery. The funeral service was held in the cemetery chapel and as William Rogers was interred the 3/4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment provided a firing party.
The paper lists the mourners as:
“ Mrs Mable Rogers (sister) Mr and Mrs Charles Rogers (brother and sister-in-law), Mr Gilbert Rogers, Mr Harold Rogers and Mr Frank Rogers (brothers), Mrs Beaumont of Bromley (aunt), Mr Harvey (cousin)……Brigadier-General J.S.A, Higgins, D.S.O. (commanding officer of the 2nd Brigade Royal Flying Corps, Gosport, Lieut.-Colonel J.H.W. Beck (Commanding 7th Wing, RFC, Gosport), officers of 7th Wing and NCO’s and mechanics of the 23rd Squad RFC.”
Initial searches of the CWGC website provided no information about W F Rogers however, brief details were found on 5th April 2002. The information gives only his name, rank and date of death and an indication that Lieutenant Rogers is commemorated on the UK Memorial. The author has communicated with the CWGC to have his burial place registered officially. It is known that in due course a war pattern headstone is to be erected.