William Ernest Rogers


Greasby bricklayer in the Machine Gun Corps, dies in France in the final phase of the war.

Written by Linda Trim

SW Borderers cap badge.jpg

Southwest Borderers Cap Badge

William Ernest Rogers was the first child of William Myles Rogers ( 1861 – ?) and Priscilla Foster (1862-1915). William Myles was a bricklayer and also a pastor at the Presbyterian church in Greasby, Wirral, Cheshire.  William Myles Rogers  started life in Everton, Lancashire in 1861, the seventh child of Thomas Rogers and Eleanor (Ellen) Woodburn (1818 – ?). Thomas was born around 1809 on the Isle of Man and must have met Ellen in the Liverpool area where he had moved to work.  Ellen was born in Kendal, Westmorland and most likely moved to Liverpool for the same reason as Thomas; to find work.  Thomas was a Joiner and in time became a Joiner Foreman. He apparently died some time in the 1870s, because at the 1881 census Eleanor is widowed.

William Myles Rogers lived in Bootle, Lancashire and  started his family life there after marrying Priscilla Foster in 1888. His oldest three children were born while he lived in Lancashire, but by 1896 the family was living West Kirby, Cheshire. William and Priscilla had a further six children and seem to have moved several times and lived in Liscard, as well as West Kirby, finally settling in Greasby.

William Ernest (Ernie)  followed in his father’s footsteps and took up bricklaying as a career. In 1911 he lived in Wood Lane, Greasby with the rest of his family.  Two of his sisters, Ruby Mabel and Ada Dorothy were working as confectioners according to the census, and so was his future wife, Ada Alice Edwards, who was living with her 39 year old sister Mary Elizabeth in “The Cafe”, Upton, Wirral, Cheshire. Mary describes herself on the census as a shopkeeper, and Ada as a confectioner. It is probable that this is how Ernie met Ada Alice. His sisters could have easily walked from Wood Lane, Greasby to the cafe in Upton – and so could he.

Ernie’s  military records no longer exist, with the exception of his medal card. We know he was a Lance Corporal from his obituary. The Machine Gun Corp (MGC) was formed about October 1916, and prior to that the men that comprised the MGC would have been attached to a regiment. Newspapers at the time of his death refer to him being in the South West Borderers, which must have been where he started his enlisted life.  The Army decided post WW1 that there was no need to keep the records of the MGC and they were all destroyed. He probably joined up in 1916 as he was not awarded the 1914/15 Star medal.

Machine Gun Corp Cap badge.PNG

Machine Gun Corps cap badge

In the Summer of 1915 Ernie and Ada were married, and he moved to Heswall, Cheshire, with his wife, probably because this is where her family were living.  On October 2nd 1916, they had a son, Reginald Ernest. Sadly, his mother died in the Spring of 1915 so would not have attended his wedding.

The 38th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corp were involved in the attempt to retake Gouzeaucourt which had changed hands more than once. On the 18th of September 1918 they were operating from Dessart Wood, near Gouzeaucourt. Two sections went forward with the Infantry, and two sections barraged the roads leading West out of Gouzeaucourt.  This attack continued into the 19th and this was the general area where William died on the 19th of September 1918.

He is buried in Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery & Memorial, Haucourt, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord Pas-de-Calais, France.

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The Deeside Advertiser 11 Oct 1918

Alice received a small pension from the Government. She did not remarry, and in 1939 was living with her unmarried son in Lymm, Cheshire. Reginald was an Estate Agent’s Clerk at that time. She died in 1950.

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Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery

Birth:  Summer 1889, Bootle, Lancashire, England
Death:  19th September 1918, Gouzeaucourt, France
Addresses:  228 Strand Road, Bootle, Lancashire, England (1891), 3, Church Road, West Kirby, Cheshire, England (1901), Wood Lane, Greasby, Cheshire, England (1911), Ingestre Terrace, Heswall, Cheshire, England (1915)
Occupations:  Bricklayer, Soldier
Units:  Southwest Borderers, 38th Bn. Machine Gun Corp
Number and Rank: 29622; 90597 Lance Corporal
Medals:  Victory, British
Commemorated and Buried:  War Memorial on Grange Hill; Book of Remembrance,;Heswall War Memorial; Greasby War Memorial; Vis-en Artois British Cemetery & Memorial, Haucourt, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord Pas-de-Calais, France
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, GH, MC, DA, BR, Ancestry, Find My Past

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