An Inspector Calls
Signalman Henry Hill Rogers Royal Signals
Henry Hill Rogers
The Man Henry Hill Rogers was born on 26th December 1919 at 151 St. Benedict’s Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, the only child of Amy Rogers, a Custard Powder Wrapper and lived at the address with his mother and Grandparents, George and Louisa. In September 1930, aged 11 Henry attended Waverley Secondary School, Byron Road in Small Heath, Birmingham. He obtained a School Certificate of the Northern Universities Joint Board in 1935 retaking the exam in 1936, his best subjects being the sciences and matriculation. He helped as a Laboratory assistant, was a member of Ivanhoe House, the Scout Troop and played in the first football team. He was a keen athlete winning medallions in 1934,35 and 36. On leaving the school in July 1936 aged 17, he was described by his Headmaster Mr F P Whiteley MA, as “A Steady hard-working boy of good character, whose conduct throughout the year has been entirely satisfactory” and subsequently joined the General Post Office as a Telephone Engineer and Fitter. Four years later on 18th April 1940 and following the outbreak of World War II seven months earlier, Henry was able to put his Post Office skills to good use enlisting at Whitby into the 3rd Depot Battalion Royal Signals with service number 2341053. He was described as 5’ 9½” tall, weighing 168lbs with blue eyes and brown hair with a girth of 38” and a range of expansion of 2½“. His religion was Church of England. He undertook training in the UK during 1940 with the 3rd Operations Training Battalion Royal Signals but was hospitalised for a week in September before being mustered with the Op W&L GRPE. On 2nd November he was relegated to the Class W Reserve (Territorial) which had been introduced in June 1916 and was ‘for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment’. Men in these classes were to receive no emoluments from army funds and were not to wear uniform. They were liable at any time to be recalled to the Colours. From the time a man was transferred to Class W, until being recalled to the Colours, he was not subject to military discipline.
Just short of two years later on 31st August 1942 Henry was recalled to the Colours and into the 2nd Division Signal Section Training Battalion; marrying Barbara Annie Goodyear on 31st October the same year. Five months later on 15th March 1943 as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force he sailed for North Africa, disembarking in Egypt on 4th May with the No1 Assault Detachment GHQ Liaison Regiment. He later moved from Egypt to ‘H’ Force serving in Malta and Sousse in Tunisia before being struck off the strength of the MEF and posted to the British North Africa Force. He was admitted to no 5 General Hospital again for a week on 25th October and embarked for his return journey to the UK on 27th November, landing on 10th December. Henry remained in the UK attached to 1st TT Battalion Royal Signals based at Catterick and promoted to Acting Lance Corporal in May 1945. He undertook various postings until attached once more to the MEF on 21st December 1945, embarking at Toulon in Southern France on 10th January 1946 and disembarking at Port Said on 15th, serving in Palestine within the Palestine Command Signal Regiment during the guerrilla war against British Forces. He returned to the UK on 31st October 1946 and discharged from the Army into the Class Z (T) Reserve on 16th January 1947. Upon his release his Commanding Officer, based in Sarafand, said of him “Signalman Rogers has been employed in his civil trade in the maintenance of telephone switchboards. Despite the Army rating of Radio Mechanic he has been suitably employed on the equivalent of GPO equipment. His work has been thorough and excellent throughout. An excellent man”. Following his release from the Army Henry was awarded the Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and General Service Medal with clasp 'Palestine 1945-48', and lived with Barbara at 151 St. Benedict’s Road. They had five children, David Neil born in 1945, Colin Vaughan 1947, Susan 1958, Stephen 1961 and Anita 1962. He also returned to the General Post Office having a range of jobs including telegraph pole repairer, engineer, working in the exchange and promoted to Inspector and was based at the Essex Street and Watery Lane exchanges. Henry remained on the Z Class reserve with the Army and attended training with the 268 Field Regiment Signal Troop during 1952 before being discharged on completion of his engagement on 10th February 1954. On 25th February 1964 Henry’s wife Barbara died aged only 39. Henry never re-married but became a close companion of a Widow, Margaret James and in the mid 1970s left 151 St. Benedict’s Road moving to 173 Marsh Lane with Margaret and her son Alan. Henry’s Sons Colin and Stephen stayed at 151 St. Benedict’s Road and interestingly the address is still in the family having been so for around 100 years. Henry retired from the GPO in 1979 aged 60 and was awarded the Imperial Service Medal in the London Gazette of 28th January 1980 and formally presented with it at a small ceremony on 7th February 1980. In later life Henry took up coarse fishing and golf and died on 4th June 1992 aged 72.
The Story The General Service Medal and Imperial Service Medal awarded to Henry Hill Rogers were acquired from E-Bay on 12th June 2013 and collected in person from Shirley the next day. Little biographical detail was avaialble but there were some very good photographs of Henry receiving his ISM and Ancestry.uk provided some additional information as well as allowing contact with Henry’s son who was also a member. A visit was made to see David Rogers in July 2014 enabling further details and an extra photograph to be added to Henry’s biography. David also completed an MoD Search Document form allowing his Father’ service records to be withdrawn and Henry’s full world War II medal entitlement to be established. Interestingly the visit to Henry’s son revealed two errors on the ancestry.com web site, and demonstrates how this can lead to confusing information when completing research. Firstly Henry’s mother’s maiden name was given as Wrapper. Henry’s mother was unmarried when he was born, her surname being Rogers, but the birth certificate shows her as being a Custard Powder Wrapper. Whoever transcribed the records back in 1919 clearly misread this important historical detail and it can still confuse 100 years later! Secondly the marriage register shows Henry’s wife’s surname as Goodier, when in fact it is Goodyear. Finally in January 2014 the MoD Medal Office confirmed the awards of the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45 to Henry Rogers.
Henry Rogers' World War II Medal Entitlement Certificate showing the award of his five medals.
Henry Roger's Waverley Secondary School Athletic Medallions
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Africa Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Italy Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued
- General Service Medal: 2341053 SIGMN. H.H.ROGERS. R.SIGS.
- Imperial Service Medal: HENRY HILL ROGERS
This page last updated 2 Mar 15