Suffering gunshot wounds to his left shoulder and back, Driver William Rogers was among the 7000 Australian casualties of the second Battle of Bullecourt in May, 1917, which had followed the disastrous attack launched three weeks earlier.
William was among the Australian and British troops who faced heavy shelling and deadly machine gun fire in the French fields in an attempt to break the German Hindenburg Line. Despite the fierce fighting and the loss of life, only about one kilometre of ground had been gained after a week of bloodshed.
Nevertheless, official war historian Charles Bean declared:
“The Second Bullecourt was, in some ways, the stoutest achievement of the Australian soldier in France”.
After seven weeks’ treatment for his wounds, William Rogers was back in the field and continued to serve with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade, during some of the heaviest fighting until just before the war’s end.
According to the brigade’s war diary, its troops were moving through Peronne when they received news of the Armistice on November 11, 1918.
William was listed among the ‘returning soldiers en route from abroad’ on the HT Trans-Os Montes in the Queenslander newspaper’s edition of May 24, 1919.
The son of Albert and Rose Rogers of Gree Farm, Tabragalba, William had been born in the small market town of Buckfastleigh, in South Devon.
Enlisting in the AIF in July 1915, he stated his age as 22 and his occupation as farmer.
William was initally part of the 12th reinforcements of the 2th Light Horse and left Sydney on the SS Hawkes Bay on October 23, 1915.
He arrived in France in March, 1916 and was transferred to the Second Division Ammunition Column and then the 4th Field Artillery Brigade.
For three weeks in January 1918, after being released from hospital after an illness, William served with the Second Australian Mobile Veterinary Section. He then returned to the 4th Field Artillery Brigade where he remained until being discharged from the army in July 1919.