Lieutenant Colonel J.B. Rogers, D.S.O., M.C.
3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion
Colonel Rogers, as he then was, hazarded his life on many a field, and if he came through the war without being physically disabled none can say that his sojourn on this earth was not cut short by the sacrifices and hardships which trench warfare entailed. He was always in the front line with regiment, and it can truly be said that he was a leader of men who won a priceless heritage.
(Toronto Globe, 15 Oct 1940, 6)
Joseph Bartlett Rogers was a ten-year member of the Queen’s Own Rifles and an original officer of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rennie’s 3rd Battalion. He was born in Toronto on 3 March 1886. He rose from the rank of lieutenant to command the 3rd Battalion for 25-months on the front between October 1916 and the armistice.
In September 1915, Rogers was diagnosed with neurasthenia and received a month’s rest leave. He was later promoted to major and assumed command of the 3rd Battalion after the death of Lieutenant Colonel W. D. Allan.
He led the 3rd Battalion from the Somme through Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens and the Hindenburg Line. My great great uncle, Private Harry Barrett was killed under his command on 30 August 1918. By the end of the war, Rogers had been four-times mentioned in the dispatches, received the Distinguished Service Order and bar and won the Military Cross. When the 3rd Battalion returned to Toronto in 1920, Rogers was one of only forty original officers and men.
Rogers remained active in postwar military issues and lobbied for the 3rd Battalion be perpetuated in the reorganized militia. In 1922, he was appointed honorary aid de camp to Governor General Julian Byng.
When he died on 13 October 1940, the Globe and Mail eulogized him as “A brilliant military leader.” At the funeral, Reverend Ramsay Armitage, a World War chaplain, added:
… and he was far more than that. He was a trusted leader and a true friend, a good soldier of his King and a soldier of Jesus Christ. God send us men like him, with hearts aflame. Long will it be remembered how he made life richer, and men better and more loyal to Canada and the Empire.
Rogers’ pallbearers included fellow veteran officers, General Rennie and Lieutenant Colonel J.P. Girvan of the 15th Battalion.