Family print 'inspirational' book of relative's war days

The Oxford Times: am and husband John Gee look through the Thomas ‘Jack’ Rogers scrapbook with grandson Jack Buy this photo am and husband John Gee look through the Thomas ‘Jack’ Rogers scrapbook with grandson Jack

A FAMILY has published an “inspirational” book of war memoirs by their beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather.

Thomas Edward Rogers MBE, fondly known as Jack, first wrote his autobiography But for the Grace of God in the 1950s.

Now about 200 copies have been reprinted by his family covering his life through two world wars and the end of British rule in India.

Born November 14, 1896, he served as an engineer in the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War.

He went throught the major battles of the war unscathed – Ypres, The Sommes and Passchendaele – and returned home to Oxford in 1918 with a ‘deep abomination of war’.

He then went on to become a tea planter’s assistant in Assam in Northern India, where he felt nothing could shatter the peace.

He had met and married his wife Lilian there in 1929 and had started his family – a daughter Pam, now 80, and twin sons John and Michael, now 77, who live in Australia.

But by 1939, at the age of 43, he was plunged into the Second World War.

Although a civilian, he organised guerrilla fighters and when Japanese attempted invasion he was involved in the 1944 Battle of Kohima ridge, providing food drops to the cut-off Naga tribes. His actions earned him an MBE.

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The family moved back to Denman’s Farm in North Oxford in 1946, land which is owned by Christ Church College and has been worked by the family for generations.

Mr Rogers died aged 80 on New Year’s Eve in 1976 and the family has been hoping to publish his memoirs ever since.

Daughter Pam Gee, who has read her father’s book four times, said: “He went through every major battle and he never got wounded.

“He wanted the memoirs to be published. I think he thought if he wrote this book, it would stop future wars and he felt that war was so awful. He thought that if he could do anything to prevent it, he would.”

Her son Robert Gee, 52, said: “The book is obviously something that has been around for a little while.

“Most of us have scanned through it a number of times. What people had to go through in the First World War was quite astounding. But, like many others, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mr Rogers’ great grandson Jack Gee, 18, an Oxford Brookes’ student and several other members of the family have been involved in the project.

  • But for the Grace of God is a hardback and available to buy on amazon.com priced £19.50

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