Veteran Herb ‘Buck’ Rogers, alongside Kalamalka Highlanders piper and Okanagan Military Tattoo president Norm Crerar. Rogers celebrated his 100th birthday at the Vernon’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Veteran Herb ‘Buck’ Rogers, alongside Kalamalka Highlanders piper and Okanagan Military Tattoo president Norm Crerar. Rogers celebrated his 100th birthday at the Vernon’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Okanagan veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Herbert ‘Buck’ Rogers served with the Royal Canadian Artillery in the Second World War

Herbert ‘Buck’ Rogers was 13 and a half pounds the day he was born in Nova Scotia, 100 years ago today.

“I was the biggest baby in Cape Breton,” laughed the veteran who served more than six years during the Second World War. “So big my father said, ‘we’ll have to buy him a wheelbarrow for Christmas!’”

Friends and family gathered at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall in Vernon to celebrate Rogers’ 100th birthday Saturday, Oct. 17, with Norm Crerar, Kalamalka Highlanders piper and Okanagan Military Tattoo founder, helping to mark the occasion.

Rogers has always been a fan of music and dancing and he’s still nimble for a centenarian, jigging his way around the hall as Crerar played Happy Birthday on the bagpipes.

Born in Cape Breton, N.S., the Vernon resident joined the army at the suggestion of his friend Ronald Jones (known affectionately as ‘Porky’) while the two were sitting and drinking wine on a train bridge in New Brunswick. They were 18 years old and fresh out of high school.

“I didn’t like algebra very much,” Rogers joked of his time in high school. “We drank the wine and Porky says, ‘let’s join the army, because everything’s free!’”

Rogers went along with Jones to Fredericton, N.B. to register. He was assigned to the Royal Canadian Artillery and became a signaller.

READ MORE: Armstrong war veterans remember fighting for ‘best country in the world’

“In no time at all, we were overseas,” Rogers said.

Rogers landed in Scotland travelling up the River Clyde before hopping on a train to London, where he trained for a year and a half.

After his training, Rogers was sent to North Africa where Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery led British and Commonwealth forces in a three-year campaign against the Axis forces. He went on to fight in Italy, France, Belgium and Germany.

He assisted in the liberation of Holland, and recalls taking 800 prisoners back home to Germany on a barge pulled by a tug boat.

“They were all good singers, they played the piano and the accordion,” he said.

Rogers spent 22 months in Italy and Netherlands, in constant conflict.

“I was in action every night and day,” he says.

In Milan, he witnessed the hanging body of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini after his execution in 1945.

He still speaks with reverence about his friend Jones, who didn’t make it home from the war. Jones was killed by a mortar shell in Russi, Italy.

“I miss Porky awful,” Rogers said. “When you’re 18 years old and your buddy is 18 years old, you’re real buddies.”

Rogers moved to B.C. in 1947 and lived in Victoria for more than 35 years. He’d gone back to school and started work as a bricklayer after the war. He started a family and raised a son.

Rogers still has his driver’s licence and makes good use of it, having driven himself to his birthday party. He still misses the east from time to time, and on several occasions he’s hit the open road to Nova Scotia. In 2015 he went on a cross-country trip in honour of Porky, the friend with whom his adventures began.

At the Eagles Hall, Rogers thanked all his friends who came to mark the occasion, while looking forward to the next.

“I’m going to start another year – just imagine that!”

READ MORE: Remembrance Day planners scrambling as COVID-19 upends traditional ceremonies


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Veterans

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snow could be seen Oct. 12 on Highway 5, near the Coquihalla summit. (Contributed)
It looks like an interesting winter folks

Winter will be colder than normal, with above-normal precipitation and below-normal snowfall

Riders of all ages participated in 2019’s Axel Mercx Granfondo in Penticton, with over 1600 registering for 2020 before COVID-19 forced its cancellation. (Western News File)
Granfondo ‘Penticton’s best opportunity for an event in 2021’

The long-distance cycling event was cancelled this year after 1600 riders had already registered

Join the discussion with Boundary Similkameen candidates. (Photo submitted)
Boundary Similkameen candidates to debate health care tonight

Everyone is welcome to join the online event

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

View of Larsson Hill from DriveBC camera at 7:25 a.m. on Oct. 21. (Contributed)
Vehicle incident at Larson Hill causing delays up to one hour on Coquihalla

The incident has blocked traffic in both directions

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead following a three vehicle collision on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (File photo)
One dead after Highway 1 crash near Revelstoke

20-year-old man pronounced dead at the scene of a three vehicle collision west of Revelstoke

Steven Stuart Gardner has been charged with possession of a firearm contrary to an order and possession of a firearm without a licence. He has also been charged, under the Motor Vehicle Act, with driving while prohibited. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Car connected to shooting, dumped in Chase leads to unrelated arrest

Investigation of Kamloops shooting leads police to a rural Chase property

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

Most Read