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)

Second World War veteran celebrates 100th birthday in Vernon

Herbert ‘Buck’ Rogers served as a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery

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

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

City of Vernon crews are responding to a small sinkhole on Lakeshore Road in Vernon Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (Contributed)
Sinkhole slows Vernon traffic

Lakeshore Road has been reduced to single-lane alternating traffic Saturday

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read