The Victoria Cross recognises examples of outstanding valour. The actions of the recipients so often demonstrate not only that they were extraordinarily courageous but that they were individuals who seized the initiative, single handedly transforming an individual situation on the battlefield through their actions.
Not only did they disregard all personal dangers but within the confusion and tension of the battle they were able to identify precisely what needed to be done and then carry it out. Sergeant Maurice Rogers was to set such an example on the 3rd June, as his citation explains:
No. 5568932 Sergeant Maurice Albert Wyndham Rogers, The Wiltshire Regiment
(Duke of Edinburgh’s) (Plaistow).
In Italy a Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment was ordered to attack high ground held by the enemy.
The leading Company had taken their first objective but were unable to reach their final objective, owing to heavy enemy fire and casualties. The Carrier Platoon, dismounted, were ordered to capture the final objective, supported iby fire from the Company and a troop of tanks.
The objective was wired and mined and strongly defended by the enemy. The Carrier Platoon advanced through machine-gun and mortar fire until they reached the enemy’s wire, which was 70 yards from their objective. At this point the Platoon was under the intense fire of seven machine-guns firing at ranges of from 50 to 100 yards, and sustained a number of casualties.
The Platoon, checked (by the enemy’s wire and the intensity of his machine-gun fire, took cover and returned the fire preparatory to gapping the wire. Sergeant Rogers, the Platoon Sergeant, without hesitation con- tinued to advance alone, firing his Thompson
He got through the enemy’s wire, ran across the minefield and destroyed two of the enemy machine-gun posts with his Thompson Sub-Machine Gun and hand grenades. By now, Sergeant Rogers was 100 yards ahead of his Platoon and had penetrated 30 yards inside the enemy’s defences.
He had drawn on to himself the fire of nearly all the enemy’s machine-guns and had thrown their, defence into confusion.
Inspired by the example of Sergeant Rogers, the Platoon breached the enemy’s wire and began the assault. Still alone and penetrating deeper into the enemy position, Sergeant Rogers, whilst attempting to silence a third machine-gun post, was blown off his feet by a grenade which burst beside him and wounded him in the leg.
Nothing daunted he stood up and still firing his Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, ran on towards the enemy post. He was shot and killed at point blank range.
This N.C.O’s undaunted determination, fearless devotion to duty and superb courage carried his Platoon on to their objective in face of a determined enemy in a strongly defended position.
The great gallantry and heroic self-sacrifice of Sergeant Rogers were in the highest tradition of the British Army.
London Gazette, 10th August 1944
Sgt Rogers was not born a Wiltshireman. He was born in Bristol and enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment in 1934 at the age of 14. He was a Drummer Boy. He was part of the Battalion team which won the Inter Unit Young Soldier’s Championship and in the years before the War he was a member of the Battalion athletic Team, as a sprinter. In France he was a Corporal in the drums. In 1941, he was promoted Sergeant and became Platton Sergeant of the Carrier Platoon, which appointment he held until his death. He was awarded the MM for gallantry in Sicily. Sgt Rogers was a tall, athletic, good looking young man with a great sense of fun. He was a loyal, keen and very smart soldier.
From the Wiltshire Regiment yearbook, see Victoria Cross Forum