The Red Duster The Merchant Navy Crest

ss CITY OF CAIRO

A tribute to the British Merchant Navy - they also served!

The Ellerman Hall vessel ss CITY OF CAIRO torpedoed on 6th November 1942

Captain William A. Rogerson OBE

Captain William Alexander Rogerson

William Alexander Rogerson

William Alexander Rogerson was born in Bootle, Liverpool on 22 June 1894. He joined the Merchant Navy in 1910 sailing as an Apprentice in the Glasgow registered steamer BELLAILSA. He served throughout the First World War gaining his Second Mate's ticket (Certificate of Competency) on 1 July 1915 followed by First Mate on 2 March 1917 and his Master's ticket on 9 December 1918.

With the coming of WW2 he was already an experienced seaman with 30 years service, 20 as Master. He served as Master in the Hall Line's CITY OF CAIRO for three voyages, joining her in Southampton on 22 June 1940, then in Liverpool on 14 November 1941 and in Glasgow for what turned out to be the ship's final voyage on 28 May 1942.

After the ship was torpedoed on 6 November 1942, Capt. Rogerson, in No.5 lifeboat, along with 5 other boats set course for the island of St. Helena. Three of the six lifeboats were rescued on 19 November by CLAN ALPINE, in sight of the island, and landed at St Helena. Captain Rogerson remained on the island until 12 December 1942 when he handed full charge of the remaining passengers and crew into the care of the ship's surgeon, Dr. Douglas Quantrill until they were fit to leave the island themselves.

Courtesy Sarah Quantrill

Captain Rogerson

Captain Rogerson

Courtesy Sarah Quantrill

Captain Rogerson and officers

Captain Rogerson (left)

Captain Rogerson and seven of his officers: R.A. Faulds, L. Boundy, W.M. Stubbs, R.H. Gerner, D. Dick, H.D. Broomby and W.B. Ritchie departed St Helena on 12 December 1942 aboard the ship CHANTILLY and on 23 February 1943, at Baltimore USA, Captain Rogerson and Chief Engineer Faulds were transferred to CITY OF EDINBURGH. This ship sailed from New York, N.Y. on 2 March 1943 homeward bound for UK, arriving Liverpool on 12 March 1943, CHANTILLY departed for the UK on February 28, 1943 in convoy HX 228, with the remaining five officers, arriving Liverpool on 15 March 1943.

After the ordeal of the CITY OF CAIRO sinking, Capt. Rogerson sailed in CITY OF AGRA and CITY OF DELHI before being discharged at his own request on 11 June 1943 to take up employment with the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).


On 3 December 1943 Captain Rogerson's award of OBE(Civ) was gazetted.

To be an Additional Officer of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:-Captain William Alexander Rogerson, Master.

Citation

"The Master displayed great courage and coolness and it was mainly due to his efficient organisation that so many persons were successfully got away in the boats. After abandonment he kept all the boats together for 5 days until, through stress of weather and other circumstances, they parted company. In his own boat much hardship was experienced and some of the occupants died but Captain Rogerson, by his skill and seamanship, brought the remainder to safety after a voyage of 13 days, the boat being actually in sight of land when it was picked up."

OBE medal

On 5 October 1944, he re-entered the Merchant Navy Reserve Pool (MNRP) at Liverpool and continued to serve as Master with the Ellerman Line for the next 20 years. He became the senior master of the Ellerman Lines fleet and his final voyage was on the CITY OF HULL where he was discharged for the last time at Victoria Docks on 16 April 1964.

Captain William Alexander Rogerson died on 12 March 1972 at the age of 78 and at his own request his ashes were scattered at sea a month later from an Ellerman Lines vessel in the Atlantic.

Elsie Rogerson, widow of Captain Rogerson, was present at the reunion held on Friday 14 September 1984, in London, on board HMS BELFAST to coincide with the publication of a book: "Goodnight Sorry for Sinking You" by Ralph Barker, and a TV documentary about the sinking.