Squadron Leader Eric George Rogers
Eric George Rogers joined the RAF on a Short Service Commission in April 1935.
He was steadily promoted, becoming an Acting Flight Lieutenant in January 1939, by which time it is likely he was already with 64 Squadron at RAF Church Fenton. January also saw the completion of the squadron re-equipment with the fighter version of the Bristol Blenheim.
Spring 1939 saw the squadron undertake affiliation work with No.2 (AC) and No.209 (GR) Squadrons. In May, it formed part of a 12 Group massed flypast over the Midlands and featured in the Church Fenton Empire Air Day. In between detachments to Scotland for Low Flying Attack work, the squadron performed a small flying display over Barnsley as part of an A.R.P. Recruitment drive and then participated in the night phases of the Home Defence exercise at Duxford.
When the squadron was mobilised, on 1 September, Acting Flight Lieutenant Rogers was leading “B” Flight. The role of 64 Squadron for the next three months was patrolling the North Sea coast and in-shore convoys. Occasionally, intercept missions against radar plots were launched but these failed to make contact.
In early December the squadron was detached to RAF Evanton, Easter Ross, to provide standing patrols of Loch Ewe, at that time a temporary base for the Home Fleet. This detachment ended on 8 January 1940, with all patrols from Evanton having been described as “uneventful”.
Back at Church Fenton the routine of patrolling the North Sea coast and in-shore convoys resumed. The return to Church Fenton brought a promotion for Eric Rogers, to Acting Squadron Leader. He also assumed command of the squadron at the end of January, when Squadron Leader Heber-Percy was posted to HQ B.E.F. in France.
Assuming command of the squadron left Eric Rogers with fewer opportunities for operational sorties – the squadron diary does not record any for him during March and the first half of April. However, he was involved in over-seeing the transition to the Spitfire, with 64 Squadron becoming operational as a day-time unit on 17 April; although only six operational sorties were flown with the new mount that month.
May brought a return to patrolling duties, with “B” Flight detached to operate from Catterick for the first eleven days. As a result of the German successes in Norway and the risk of air raids being launched from there, the squadron moved to RAF Usworth on 11 May, however, the German invasion of Belgium and Holland meant they had scarcely time to unpack before they were called south to 11 Group and RAF Kenley on 16 May. The first four days at Kenley were quiet for the squadron with only single aircraft patrols being launched. Squadron Leader Rogers joined Blue Section on 24 May, to investigate a raid plot but they fail to make contact.
Rogers’ second operational sortie from Kenley was also his last. Leading nine aircraft of the squadron, Rogers took off at 16.50 to patrol over Dunkirk. The squadron was bounced, reportedly by nine, German aircraft, claiming one shot down and several others badly damaged. However Squadron Leader Rogers was one of three pilots who failed to return.
Contact was made on this patrol with inferior numbers of e/a. F/Sgt Flynn accounted for one Me.109. Several other e/a were thought to have been badly damaged. Three aircraft containing as pilots S/L Rogers, P/O George & P/O Hackney respectively, did not return.
No trace of him or his Spitfire, L1052, was ever found.
Eric George Rogers was the only son of George and E. G. Rogers of Teignmouth in Devon. His Father was a senior member of the technical staff of the Electrical Supply Department of Birmingham Corporation, at the time of his son’s death.
Eric George Rogers was educated at Bishop Vesey Grammar School and lived at Church Rd, Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
Squadron Leader Rogers is commemorated on Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.