Bob Rogers (SAAF officer)

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Robert Harry Doherty Rogers
Lt.. General Bob Rogers.jpg
Nickname(s) Bob
Born (1921-11-07)7 November 1921
Warden, Orange Free State, South Africa
Died 3 June 2000(2000-06-03) (aged 78)[1]
Cape Town, South Africa[2]
Allegiance  South Africa
Service/branch South African Air Force
Rank Lieutenant General
Service number 106121/102299V[3]
Relations Clare Bosch (Wife)
Other work Member of Parliament[4]

Lieutenant-General Robert Harry Doherty Rogers SSA SM MMM DSO DFC & bar (1921-2000) was a Chief of the South African Air Force. He joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1940, and served in World War II and the Korean War. He subsequently rose through the ranks to become Chief of the SAAF. After his military career he entered politics and served as a Member of Parliament.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Warden in the Orange Free State, South Africa, on 7 November 1921. He won his Springbok (i.e. national) colours[4] for shooting, and later joined the SA Air Force (SAAF), commencing his flying training in January 1941. He matriculated from Maritzburg College in 1938, upon which he enrolled as a medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand until mid-1940, before joining the South African Air Force as a volunteer for active service in World War 2, first qualifying as an air gunner. When he volunteered to train as a pilot, he went to Southern Rhodesia for training.

Air Force career[edit]

By October 1941, Rogers was assigned to 208 Squadron (RAF) in Egypt, where he flew Hurricanes and Spitfires in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Austria. He was shot down near Benghazi in 1942,[1] but managed to escape capture. In August 1942, despite having a finger shot off, he fought off four Luftwaffe ME 109s. By December 1943, he had been promoted to lieutenant-colonel and placed in command of 225 Squadron, RAF. For his services he was awarded a DSO and DFC and Bar. Even his father, who was a captain in the army, had to salute him – much to the delight of both men.[citation needed] Towards the end of World War II, General Rogers was put in charge of his old squadron, 40 Squadron SAAF.

After the war, Rogers accepted a permanent commission in the SAAF with the rank of captain, and served in various posts, including as a flight instructor and as Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Governor-General of the Union. Major Rogers (as he then was) served in the Korean War in 1951 and 1953 as a fighter bomber pilot, flying Mustangs and Sabres. He earned the American DFC,[5] Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Korean Chungmu[5] Decoration. In 1954, he married Clare Bosch and they had a son.

He went on to hold various command and staff posts (including OC of 12 Squadron SAAF and 24 Squadron SAAF[6]), and at the end of 1974 he was appointed Acting Chief of the Air Force. He was appointed Lieutenant-General in March 1975 when he was confirmed as Chief of the Air Force, the post he held until his retirement in 1979.


General Rogers retired from the SAAF in 1979 and settled in Knysna, Cape Province. In 1989, he became the Democratic Party MP for Walmer, Port Elizabeth and was defence spokesman for that party in parliament.

Honours and awards[edit]

Miniatures of his medals on display at SAAF Museum, Ysterplaat

He was awarded the DSO[7] and DFC[8] and Bar[9] for his gallantry in World War II combat actions, as well as being Mentioned in Dispatches[1][10] He was awarded the American Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the South Korean Chungmu Decoration with Gold Star. For service in the SAAF, he was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa, the Southern Cross Medal and the Chief of Defence Force Commendation (now known as the Medal of Military Merit).


See also[edit]

Spitfire Mk IX as flown by Lt. Col R.R. (Bob) Rogers while OC 40 Squadron SAAF. Rogers' aircraft carried the RR marking from 1943 – 1945, based on his initials.


  1. ^ a b c "SAAF Lt Gen. R H.D. 'Bob' ROGERS DIES". 18th Fighter Wing Association. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  2. ^ "Lt Gen Bob Rogers passes away". 2000-06-04. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  3. ^ "World War 2 - ROGERS, Robert Harry Doherty". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  4. ^ a b Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992. Fortress Publishers. p. 200. ISBN 0-9583173-3-X. 
  5. ^ a b "Remarkable Medal Group of 25 awarded to Lt Genl RH Rogers". Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  6. ^ C.J. Nöthling; E.M. Meyers (1982). "Leaders through the years (1912-1982)". Scientaria Militaria. 12 (2): 96. 
  7. ^ "London Gazette". 37233. 1945-08-17: 4224. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  8. ^ "London Gazette". 35731. 1942-10-02: 4341. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  9. ^ "London Gazette". 36346. 1944-01-21: 483. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  10. ^ "London Gazette". London Gazette. 35841: 42. 29 December 1942. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Jacobus Verster
Chief of the South African Air Force
1975 – 1979
Succeeded by
Michal Muller