We were very sad to hear that Ron Rogers passed away on 4th July 2017 aged ninety-nine. He had been at Bedford School from 1928 to 1935. In recent years Ron had attended a number of School and Old Bedfordians Club events and had returned to talk to the boys about his war time experiences. He had also appeared on a number of historical programmes relating to the Second World War and Operation Overlord in particular.
When War broke out, Ron joined the 1st Suffolk Regiment and in 1944, as a Captain and second-in-command of A Company, landed on D-Day on Sword Beach. The Suffolks’ role on D-Day was to push through the coastal defences, clear the village of Colleville- sur-Orne and capture two German strongpoints – one a battery codenamed ‘Morris’, and one a key command centre codenamed ‘Hillman’. In mid-August 1944 Ron was injured by a mortar bomb and returned to England to receive medical treatment. However, by January 1945 he was fit enough to rejoin his battalion and was promoted to Major. He stayed with the battalion over the following months as they pushed through Europe and had reached Bremen by the time the War came to an end.
In 2014, to tie in with 70th Anniversary of Normandy Offensive, Ron was awarded, with other surviving D-Day veterans, the Legion d’Honneur for his role in the Normandy Landings. This was, of course, a great honour and the award was presented to him in 2015 on behalf of the French Government by HM Lord Lieutenant for Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis.
Ron was also to his credit, the oldest living former Bedford Blues player and had represented the 1st XV twenty-nine times between 1939 and 1948. He had played mainly at fly half and, although his playing career was disrupted by the War, he had always tried to represent his home Club when he could get leave and make it back to Bedford.
Ron was a great character and many in the community will be particularly sad that we will not be able to raise a glass to celebrate his 100th Birthday this November. He was looking forward to these celebrations, but never the less his memory will live on.
Our thoughts are with Ron’s Family at this time. We have been informed that the Memorial Service will be held at St Peter’s Church, Harrold on Friday 29th September at 2.00pm.
* Above photo: 6 June 2015 – Major Ron Rogers at with the Lord-Lieutenant after he was presented his Legion D’Honneur award – 71 years to the day from his landing on Sword Beach