Message from W.J. (Bill) Rogers


I was born on the 6th of August 1932, one of a family of five children, three boys and two girls. We lived in Gillingham, Kent.


Germany invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1939. Britain and France, having signed an alliance of mutual assistance with Poland in August, declared war on Germany. This began a chain of events that was to affect our family and thousands of others throughout Britain.


Our father had joined the Royal Engineers in 1925. He served six years with the regular army and six as a reservist. In 1939, he was employed in the local waterworks. On the 2nd of September, he and many thousands of others like him were recalled for service. On the 5th of October the British Expeditionary Force sailed for France. It soon met such stiff opposition that they were forced to withdraw to Dunkirk for evacuation.


The Royal Engineers, fighting a rearguard action, carried out several counterattacks. During one of these, our father was ‘killed in action’ in May 1940.


A welfare officer of the Royal Engineers later made arrangements for the two eldest boys – one 10 years 8 months old and the other (me) 9 years 7 months old – to be admitted to the Duke of York’s Royal Military School as entrants 16339 and 16338 respectively.


The school, normally on the cliffs east of Dover, in sight of France, had been relocated to a large Hotel atop high cliffs at Saunton Sands, Devon, overlooking a large beach and dunes (Braunton Burrows). The school returned to its location near Dover in 1946.


So began life as a Dukie lasting 5½ years for me and 4½ for my brother, which evolved into long military careers for both of us.


Originally, I intended to write only of my experiences as a Dukie. As I was also researching my family history after I retired, this writing began to cover my subsequent military and other experiences. Eventually, it all became a book, When the Bugle Calls, which can be downloaded from here.


At the same time, I was collecting information about the Duke of York’s School, from its earliest history at the turn of the nineteenth century to a few years after I left the school in 1947. Much of that material has been collected into another book, Dukies of Yesteryear, which can be downloaded from here.


I’m grateful to Kate Cockerill, daughter of my Dukie contemporary at Saunton, the late Art Cockerill – he was three years older – for the opportunity to include these books as part of Art’s archived website (



NOTE: Downloading the books for reading on the screen or for printing out should present no problems on a regular computer. Your can also do this on a tablet or smart phone (latter possible but not recommended) but it may not be quite so straightforward. These instructions may help:


Hold your finger on the respective "here" (see above) for a second or two until two small windows appear. One has a preview of the book. Ignore this, and touch the first option in the other window, which is "Open in a New Tab". The book will then appear -- which may take several seconds. You can save the book for later viewing by touching the share symbol near the top right-hand corner, and then in the window that pops up touch "Copy to Acrobat". For this you will have to have downloaded the Acrobat Reader app to your device from


Several of the links in each book may work only on a regular computer, not a tablet or smart phone. This is particularly true of the links to music and video files on the last page of each book.