ROGERS, John David OBE CBE MC (1895-1978)

Modified on Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:13 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Collegians in the News 1911-1960, Biography - OGCA Gallery of Notable Old Collegians, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of Military Service, Biography of War - World War I, Biography of War - World War II

ROGERS, Brig. John David OBE CBE MC (1895-1978)

Brigadier John David Rogers, army officer and company director, was born at Penguin, Tasmania, the son of Rev James Rogers, a Methodist Minister, and his wife Agnes, née Caldwell.

He was enrolled as a day student at the Geelong College from 1909 to 1913 becoming the school dux in his final year. His interest in a military life appears to have been fired early as it was noted that while the family were living in Dimboola in 1908 the local school established a cadet unit of which Rogers was a member. By 1912 he was a member of the College cadet shooting team. However, in the competition for the 1913 Cumming Cup, his score, of the eight College Team members, was the lowest, being high for the 200 yds but much weaker at 500yds. His biography suggested that he had actually shot well but at the wrong target! He was also a member of both the 2nd XVIII Football Team and the 2nd XI Cricket Team and scored over 100 in one of the internal College cricket matches which was noted as a very rare feat at the time. He was also notable for winning the sack race at the School Sports in 1910.

Brig John David Rogers.

Brig John David Rogers.

His biography states that he won a scholarship to the College although no records now survive to verify this although it was also common for the sons of Ministers to receive free tuition at the School.
He was awarded an Old Collegians’ Exit scholarship which together with other scholarships to Ormond College enabled him to study at Melbourne University but his studies were to be curtailed by the outbreak of World War I. His enlistment on 20 August, 1914 signalled the start of a military career in which he rose from the rank of private in the 6th Battalion to that of Brigadier. He first saw service at Gallipoli and then on the western front. By war’s end he was a Captain and intelligence officer with the 6th Battalion and an awardee of the Military Cross and Belgium’s Croix de Guerre. After de-mobilisation in 1919 he returned to University studying Science, married in 1922, and in 1923 commenced work with the Vacum Oil Company.

Following the outbreak of World War II Rogers re-enlisted, offering his services to Sir Thomas Blamey commander of the 2nd AIF. As a consequence he returned to intelligence work in the Middle East and later in the Pacific Campaign. He was delegated as the Australian representative to accept the Japanese surrender in Singapore. After the war Rogers was granted the rank of Honorary Brigadier and awarded the CBE for his military service. He returned to the Vacum Oil Company as General Manager in New South Wales, was appointed a Director in 1946, and returned to Melbourne as Marketing Manager in 1948. He retired as Chairman in 1959. His interest in the arts dates back to his time at Ormond College when he wrote several plays and briefly pondered a life as playright. As a Vacum Oil Manager he had sponsored radio programs in the 1950s including Mobil Quest and, following his retirement from Mobil, this interest re-surfaced in his appointment to the Victorian Arts Centre Building Committee. Over the next years he served as a Director on various boards and community committees including the Council of the Geelong College from 1943-1951 and 1954-1960.

Brigadier Rogers died at Caulfield in 1978. His son D W Rogers ‘Bill’ was also educated at the Geelong College and served on the School Council.

Brigadier John David Rogers OBE, CBE, MC was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.

Sources: Neil James, 'Rogers, John David (1895 - 1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, pp 120-121.Winning with Intelligence: A Biography of Brigadier John David Rogers, CBE MC 1895-1978. by Judy Thomson, Loftus: AHMP,2000.