Private Gerald Rodgers, Percy Brown, Lawrence Frost, and Derrick Wood lived on the St Helier Estate in Morden, South London, England. They all served and died in World War II. We have photographs of three men and some information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Additional findings, corrections, and links are included below in blue text.
Private GERALD BERNARD RODGERS (not Rogers) served as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps. He died aged 19 sometime between 29th May – 2nd June 1940. He is commemorated in the Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France. He is believed to have lived at Dorchester Road, Morden. He was son of Richard Henry and Elizabeth Sarah Rogers, of Morden, Surrey.
Private PERCY FREDERICK BROWN served as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps. He died sometime between 28th May and 4th June 1940 aged 21. He is buried in Middlekerke Cemetery in Belgium. He was believed to have lived at Canterbury Road, Morden and was son of George William and Mabel Beatrice Brown.
Flying officer LAURENCE JAMES FROST served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He died on 8th January 1944 aged 21 and is commemorated in the Malta Memorial. He is believed to have lived at Canterbury Road, Morden. He was son of Frederick and Eleanor (not Edith) Frost, husband of Anne E. Frost (of Little Hulton, Lancashire), and was father of Carol.
Trooper DERRICK CHARLES WOOD served with the Royal Tank Regiment. He died on 24th November 1941 aged 24. He is commemorated in the Alamein Memorial, Egypt and was believed to have lived at Furness Road, Morden. He was son of Charles Edwin and Gladys Dorothy Wood, of Dorking, Surrey, and was husband of Doris Margaret Wood. We have no verified photograph of Derrick.
The families of these young men commemorated their lives with a plaque in a local church; a place where they could visit without traveling abroad. But this memorial was nearly lost.
THE MEMORIAL SAVED
The memorial plaque was originally displayed at the back of Farm Road Church in Morden, which began as a mission hall in 1937, before being rebuilt in 1960s. The bronze plate, mounted on hard wood with raised lettering, measured 486mm by 435mm and was said to have been made from materials found on the battle field. It reads: –
IN PROUD MEMORY OF THOSE OF OUR NUMBER WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
P/O LAURENCE JAMES FROST R.A.F.V.R
PTE GERALD BERNARD ROGERS R.A.S.C
PTE PERCY FREDERICK BROWN R.A.S.C
TRP DERRICK CHARLES WOOD R.T.R
When Farm Road Church was closed in 2014, however, the building was threatened with demolition and the church management committee feared that the memory of the men would be lost in the local area.
The committee therefore approached St George’s Church to provide a new home for the memorial and preserve the tribute to the men. The church accepted. The memorial will be installed near the entrance of St George’s Church on Remembrance Sunday 2022.
THE MISSION SHARED
Our mission is to try and find the families of Private Rogers and friends by Remembrance Sunday. We would like them to know where their relatives are proudly commemorated and invite them to the unveiling of their memorial on 13th November.
You can help us commemorate Private Rogers and friends by sharing this post with the hash tag:
We hope that someone who knew the families may see the post and put us in touch. Our contact details are on this page.
You can share our video, Facebook post, and Instagram image.
The memorial plaque will be unveiled by by Major Phil Shannon at the St George’s Church Remembrance Service on Sunday 13th November at 10.30am..
Free refreshments will be served afterwards. Visitors are most welcome.
We will post updates on our search for the family below.
13/11/2022. Memorial unveiled
The war memorial to the four St Helier servicemen was unveiled on Remembrance Sunday. Major Phil Shannon did the honours and the family of Laurence Frost lay wreaths in memory of the men. You can read more and see photos here.
08/11/2022. Remembrance Sunday
We are delighted that Major Philip Shannon will be unveiling the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday at St George’s.
Ron Zimmerman, who served in the RAF in WWII, will be leading the Exhortation, following the two minutes silence.
We also hope to have some of the relatives of the men who are commemorated on the memorial at the service.
Starting at 10.30am, visitors are welcome and for free refreshments afterwards.
27/10/2022, AM. Local news coverage.
The South London Press has run a short piece on our search for the relatives of the men commemorated on our new memorial. You can read it here.
26/10/2022, AM. More details and photos of Lawrence
This weekend, Vicky (Lawrence Frost’s Great Niece) met with Rosetta (Laurie’s sister) and she wrote the following yesterday:
After “a very emotional weekend of conversations I have some more information for you and a few corrections to the info I gave you previously!
I’ve attached some photos of Laurie – one with his brothers Harry (left) and Fred (right) and another from his wedding to Annie with his sisters Rosetta (left) and Ellen (right) – the small bridesmaid is Annie’s sister June”
(Photos below – note from the newspaper cutting that the Frosts were married at our sister church, St Lawrence in Morden!)
“Laurie was co piloting a Wellington (not Blenheim) and was flying as part of the 179 Squadron on Operation Swamp which was tasked with targeting U boats in the Med using the revolutionary ‘Leigh Light‘ which illuminated the sea beneath them – although I note that on the night of the crash there was a full moon and no Leigh Lights were used. (Read the military report)
…Laurie’s daughter Carole Anne was actually born on Christmas Day (not Eve) and I was really glad to learn that Laurie had received the news of her birth and was looking forward to coming home on leave – due just a few days after he was killed.
Rosetta has told me that the boys all knew each other well and she remembers Percy in particular – he and Laurie both taught at the Sunday School and played in the mission Band (Laurie on the big bass drum – possibly a choice encouraged by his father Fred who played the same in the Grenadier Guards during WW1)….
Rose has said that every year on the anniversary of Laurie’s death someone left White Chrysanthemums by the memorial plaque…
I do hope you’ve had some luck in tracing the other families and want to thank you and everyone involved once again for the efforts you are making – I can’t tell you what it means to us and to Rose in particular.”
The crew of the Wellington who died with Lawrence Frost included, C. Parker (Nav), A.G. Fuller (WOP/AG), ?R. Liminsang (WOP/AG)?, J.V. Dadson (WOP/AG).
W.F.M Davidson (Pilot), was the only surviving member of the crew. He narrowly escaped being picked up by the U-Boat and later received the DFC.
Members of Lawrence’s family plan to attend our Remembrance Sunday on 13th November at 10.30am. We are continuing our search for the other families by putting out a press release this morning.
Click photos to enlarge
24/10/2022, AM. A memory of the Wood family.
A former member of Farm Road Church, where the memorial used to be displayed, wrote this week: we “had a boy in the Boys Brigade in the 1950s called Doug Wood who we think was part of the Wood family.”
Our Outreach Worker will be visiting the roads where the men lived to see if anyone living there knows the men’s families.
Someone sent us a picture of Rodger’s name on the memorial in Dunkirk, again spelt ‘Rodgers’ not ‘Rogers.’
Thanks for those who have shared our post on Facebook and who have been in touch. Keep the information coming!
19/10/2022, AM. Contact with Lawrence’s relative established!
She’s told us that Lawrence had three brothers and one sister, Rosetta, who is still alive and living in Kent. Lawrence’s mother Eleanor (not Edith, as the CWGC records states) lived at Canterbury Road until her death.
Vicky wrote of her Great Grandmother:
“I remember her very well – she kept a photo of Laurie by her side always so although he died long before I was born he has always felt part of the family to me.
I have a feeling that he taught at Farm Rd Mission Sunday School and it is where we held the funerals of both his parents.
Very sadly Laurie died without meeting his daughter Carol who was born on [Christmas Day] just 2 weeks before his death.”
“He was killed when a U boat shot down the [Wellington] he was co piloting…amazingly the pilot survived but the rest of the crew were killed.”
We hope to be able to share more about Lawrence’s life once Vicky has spoken to Rosetta.
19/10/2022, AM. Possible photo of Derrick
Thanks to Richard on Facebook who found this picture of a Derrick Charles Wood on a graves search website. At the bottom of the page it says, “added by great grandson, James Sawyer and grand daughter Beverley Sawyer.” We’ll try to verify that the photo is of Derrick.
Several people have contacted us to say that they have done searches on ancestry websites and are trying to contact authors who have named the servicemen in their family trees.
We have had an initial response from the DAC about the misspelled memorial. They are seeking further advice and sent us two articles on memorials that have been corrected, one resulting in the family’s delight and one in an appeal!
18/10/2022, AM. A Yorkshire family familiar with typos!
Having discovered that Gerald’s surname is misspelled on the memorial, we have been sent a copy of the Marriage Entry for Gerald’s parents at St Peters Church, Sutton dated 21st April 1935. Their surname is spelt “Rogers” on the entry and has been crossed out and corrected to “Rodgers”. It seems that Gerald’s family was used to their name being spelt wrong!
Another record has been found that says that Gerald Rodgers was born in Cork Ireland and was baptized in a military chapel there on 7th November 1920. His father was based at the Fermoy military base in Cork but his parents originally came from Yorkshire.
Our lead to the Australian side of the Rodgers family has drawn a blank but we have a couple of other leads for them and the other men, which someone is following up.
We have been in touch with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission regarding Gerald’s name. They were able to see a copy of the ‘Final Verification Form’ completed by Gerald’s mother, Elizabeth, giving instructions for his grave. This paper was dated June 1954 and records his surname name as ‘Rodgers’
This gives us strong evidence that it is his memorial that is spelt wrong, not his war records.
We cannot alter the memorial plaque but we will next take advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) on how we can ensure that Gerald’s name is accurately remembered when the memorial goes on display in November.
17/10/2022, AM. Gerald Rogers or Rodgers?
We have our first significant lead! We’ve been sent a search from an ancestry website that states that Rogers had three siblings – Edith (1913-1975), Eric Richard (1916-) and Fredrick G (1925-2003). One family tree shows that he has relatives in Australia today.
The surprise was that his surname is recorded as ‘Rodgers’, however, not ‘Rogers’ as stated on the war memorial. This spelling fits with Gerald’s Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
According to a historian who has been in touch today, such spelling mistakes are not uncommon. Our next step is to establish whether the war records or his memorial spells his name right. We are also trying to establish contact with the family in Australia.