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

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

(Kamloops this Week)
Grandfather accused of using grandchild to make child porn residing in Salmon Arm area

66-year-old’s offences alleged to have taken place in Kamloops

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

The Vernon School District reports 95 per cent of its students have returned to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Fewer local, more international students help cover one Okanagan school district’s $1.2M enrolment deficit

School district projected 13 fee-paying international students; 43 enrolled

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Most Read