Medals of Portsmouth secret agent who survived and served in both world wars to fetch £1,500 at auction

CAMPAIGN medals given to an undercover agent from Portsmouth who survived service in both world wars have been earmarked to make £1,500 at auction.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 10:30 am
Campaign medalsgiven to anundercover agent from Portsmouth, Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant Alan Mackenzie Rogers, will go on sale in Salisbury on November 20. From left, the collections features his 1914-15 star,British War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal, 1939-45 Star and War Medal 1939-45. Picture: Woolley and Wallis

Auctioneers in Salisbury have hailed the ‘extraordinary' story behind Portsea-born Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant Alan Mackenzie Rogers’ awards.

His 1914-15 star, British War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal, 1939-45 Star and War Medal 1939-45 will go under the hammer later this month. 

While the collection is not hugely rare, auctioneers say its connection to Mr Rogers' incredible life story will resonate with potential buyers. 

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After joining the Royal Navy aged 17 in 1914, Mr Rogers served in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 on the C class light cruiser HMS Castor.

He resigned from the Royal Navy in 1921 and was working in Yugoslavia when the Second World War broke out and he was recruited by MI6.

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It was then he became part of the Special Operations Executive, formed in July, 1940, and masqueraded as a consular clerk, while supporting Resistance organisations in warding off the threat of German occupation. 

When Yugoslavia was eventually invaded in April, 1941, Mr Rogers was thrown into an Austrian concentration camp and was deemed to be in great danger by colleagues in London.

But he fervently kept his cover, and was transferred to a Polish civilian detention camp seven months after he was initially captured. 

Ned Cowell, a militaria specialist at Woolley and Wallis auction house in Salisbury, said: ‘The work that Rogers carried out for the SOE carried real risk. 

‘One of his colleagues was murdered in his flat and another fought off an assassin that had been dispatched from Berlin, so the threat to life was very real.

‘Keeping up a front as an innocent civilian during all the months he spent in a concentration camp would have taken considerable mettle, but had he not done then it is almost certain that he would not have survived.’

Mr Rogers was freed from the camp in 1945 and the Special Operations Executive was dissolved six months later. 

He returned to work in the oil industry, moved to Casablanca, Morocco, and died in Palma, Italy, in 1970, aged 74. 

Mr Cowell added: ‘The group of medals belonging to Rogers are not especially rare in themselves. 

'The three from the Great War are frequently encountered, and the Star and War Medal from the Second World War are also fairly commonplace. ‘It is the extraordinary story that they represent that adds to their value.’

The collection will feature in a large medal sale to be held by Woolley and Wallis on Wednesday, November 20, with an estimate of between £1,000 and £1,500.