On The War Memorial Trail…..The WW2 Soldier Wounded In Italy Who Came Home

February 1, 2021.  In researching soldiers from the South Shore area of Prince Edward Island, we’ve told many stories about those who didn’t survive, but of course many soldiers did come back home.  One soldier that returned was Gordon James ROGERSON, whose niece Barb Clement brought to our attention.

 “…Uncle Gordon was my mother’s brother….” she told us. “…There were 9 children in the family. My mother was third youngest, then Gordon was next, and Uncle Keith was the youngest…

Born on February 13, 1920 in Tryon, Barb explained that “…his parents, my grandparents, were Maude (nee MacKay) and Reuben Rogerson of Tryon and later Summerside…

Gordon Rogerson

Gordon James Rogerson.  (Photo submitted by Barb Clement)

After leaving school at age 15, Gordon worked as a farm labourer and a machine operator in a wood finishing mill before enlisting with the PEI Highlanders in Summerside on February 23, 1940.  On July 15, 1940, he boarded a ship in Halifax and soon was on his way to the United Kingdom as part of the 2nd Canadian Division Infantry Reinforcement Unit.

In December 1941 he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Division Infantry Reinforcement Unit, and then on January 15, 1942 he was transferred to the West Nova Scotia Regiment.  J. Ron Stonier, President of the West Nova Scotia Regimental Association explained that “…he would have trained with them and performed defensive duties until they left for the Mediterranean in late June ‘43 for the invasion of Sicily on 9 July ‘43…

On August 2, 1943 Gordon was wounded in Sicily.  Ron Stonier wrote that August 2, 1943 was “…..the day the West Novas occupied Mount Criscana which they called “Whistling Hill….

After recovering, he rejoined the Regiment, but was hurt again on December 4, 1944 in Italy, a day “when the West Novas were in action on the Ortona Front….”  Gordon’s daughter, Gloria Rogerson, wrote, in 2000, that her father “…had lost his leg after detecting and digging out a mine and stepping in the hole.  Another mine, planted below the first, had gone off….

A letter sent by Chaplain W.G. Phillips sent to his parents explained that Gordon had arrived at a casualty clearing station and noted that “… This afternoon he was injured by an enemy mine, and I regret to say that as a result, his left foot had to be amputated above the ankle.  He also received a flesh wound in the forearm…..

Chaplain Phillips noted the positive attitude that Gordon displayed, writing that “…He is most cheerful and resigned to the loss of his foot.  As he himself stated ‘I am thankful to be here safely’…. Your son is receiving the best of medical and nursing care….

In February 1945 Gordon was transferred to 19th Canadian General Hospital at Marston Green, near Birmingham, UK. Built as a series of huts, originally as a base for the Royal Canadian Air Force early in WW2, this hospital had beds for about 700 patients. After the war it became a maternity hospital.

Marston Green Maternity Hospital as a Canadian War Hospital

19th Canadian General Hospital, Marston Green, in Birmingham, UK.  (Photo found on http://www.birminghamforum.co.uk)

Gordon was not long at the 19th Canadian General Hospital as in March 1945 he was sent back to Canada and on March 21, 1945 was admitted to Camp Hill Military Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Barb Clement with her husband Steve.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

While at Camp Hill, Barb Clement recalled being told that Gordon “…had gangrene in his leg…”  Likely he had a second amputation as his leg was ….amputated to just below the knee…” and not at the ankle as per the letter written by Chaplain Phillips.

He was officially discharged from the Canadian Army on May 1, 1945.  Over the next decades Gordon married Madeline (Peggy) Fleet and raised his children.  He became a member of the War Amputees Association of Canada and was involved with Alcoholics Anonymous for 21 years, ending with his death on February 10, 1993, at the age of 72 years.

Remembered by his family as a cheerful man who loved to joke around, Gordon Rogerson was a WW2 veteran who was able to return home and live his life, surrounded by family and friends.

Thank you to Barb Clement, Gloria Rogerson, and Ron Stonier of the West Nova Scotia Regimental Association for providing information on Gordon Rogerson.  If you have information or photos to share about soldiers from PEI South Shore area, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

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