Putting a Small Wrong Right!

The Misspelt Name

We all know the feeling; minding our own business, getting on with our lives, and there it is, one or more of our names has been incorrectly spelt on some correspondence.  For the most part, we smile and move on, but after a while, the same mistake can be rather irksome, and we set about getting things corrected.

As with any historical research, unearthing the stories of “Our Boys” has been an adventure in overcoming numerous obstacles and dead-ends.  Truth and accuracy are the finishing line; as stories unfold and new evidence comes to light, each new detail must be tested and proven beyond all reasonable doubt.  A persistent, logical approach with a hint of creativity in pursuing the trail are essential; nothing can be assumed, however tempting!

As my work turned to John Edmund Rogers, all seemed well.  He is clearly named on the Cockshutt War Memorial12 and The Roll of Honour32, which also tells us that he served with the Australian Imperial Force and that he died whilst on active service (RIP)32.  He is clearly named as such on both the 1893 GRO Index Register for Births14, and on the 1911 Census3 (19012 only gives the initial E).

Inevitably, I reached a roadblock; as I turned to the CWGC43 website to find his Commemorative Certificate, I could only find a John Edward Rogers.  Although confident that this was one of “Our Boys”, I had to set about proving it.

The Commission has clear rules on how to pursue correction of details, however minor and the evidence which must be submitted.  For its part the CWGC then sets about thoroughly investigating the submissions, much of which I had already determined, together with John’s Australian Military Service Record.  For now, it was my job to check each nugget of information very carefully.

But how had this confusion come about?  The usual explanation is that in the carnage of the battlefield, specifics regarding identity had either been lost or damaged, but in this instance, this scenario didn’t ring true; a solid trail showing how a photograph and his personal effects had been returned31 to his Father, Edward Rogers2 already existed.

The clue was in his name; as I studied John’s Service Records31, I realized that the old tradition for abbreviating names had been used.  Thus, Edmund had been shortened to Edd and the ‘assumption’ seems to have been that his middle name was the more common Edward.

To test this theory, I applied for and received the Certified Copy of John’s Birth Certificate10.

Certified Copy of John Edmund Roger’s Birth Certificate

Despite being ‘grainy’, it clearly tells us that John’s middle name is indeed Edmund; when compared with his Father’s name, the letter formation and spelling is quite different.  I now had my penultimate piece of the jigsaw.  What I needed now was the magnus opus, which I found in John’s Service Records; his signature:

Armed with my full quota of evidence, I submitted it to the Enquiries Section, Commonwealth Graves Commission, as follows:

Quota of Evidence for CWGC

After a few weeks, I received a reply from the Records Team, stating that in addition to amending John Edmund Roger’s details, they were able to use the additional evidence to up-date their records.

Please follow the link: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/172242/rogers,-john-edmund/

In the great scheme of things, addressing the misspelling of a middle name is a tiny thing.  However, John Edmund Rogers is one of “Our Boys” and his own war was vicious; giving him the dignity of correct personal details is, I believe, the least we can do.

On the day he set sail for Australia, for ‘pastures new’, no one could have foreseen the brutality or violence of his death exactly four years later, as he laid down his life for us.

Rest in Peace John Edmund Rogers.

We Will Remember Him.