Rifleman George Rodgers (7015246) served in 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles during World War Two. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. W Rodgers of 32 Foreman Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim. His father had served in The Great War.
Having enlisted on 11th September 1939, George was part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in 1940. As one of the British Expeditionary Force, he took part in the retreat through Belgium and France. During the evacuation of Dunkirk, he returned to the United Kingdom on board HMS Ross. George’s brother Gunner William Rodgers served throughout World War Two in the Royal Artillery.
There were all kinds of ships and as soon as the bombers came over, you dove for the soil and got down deep if you can. I saw a fella one time, he was dead, and he had his waterproof cape on him. They tried to make it, but the Germans just took it away with a blast. Some blokes get a fear in them. They can’t move, they don’t move. I’m not going to be left because he’s afraid to go forward. You have to be prepared yourself. Sometimes I think we could have stopped and gone back again. If you’re in fear yourself, you’re never getting nowhere.
George Rodgers interviewed by BBC Northern Ireland in 2016.
Injury in Burma
His war service lasted the duration of the conflict from September 1939 to June 1945. He served in the Royal Ulster Rifles until 8th May 1942. He then joined Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers from 9th May 1942 to 26th October 1944. The remainder of the war, he spent with Kings Own Scottish Borderers. His time in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers included a serious facial injury as a result of a grenade explosion in Burma. The Belfast Telegraph reported on the incident on 9th April 1945.
In his later years, though frail and bedridden, George still had flashbacks to the events of 1940. It was only after 70 years that he felt he could talk about his experiences. Despite not wanting to recall all the events, he was proud of the medals he received. In 2015, his son Bill Rodgers applied to the Ministry of Defence for the Légion d’Honneur on behalf of his father. France has been awarding its highest military decoration to UK soldiers.
George Rodgers died on Saturday 22nd July 2017 aged 98 years old. At his time of death, he still had not received the Légion d’Honneur.