On His Majesty's Secret Service

9th November 2019

The medals awarded to an English undercover agent are set to make up to £1,500 at auction.

Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant Alan Mackenzie Rogers was one of the lucky few who served in and survived both World Wars. He entered the Royal Navy in 1914 at the age of 17 and was present at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, in which almost 10,000 men lost their lives on both sides, with the heaviest losses resting with the British.

Having resigned from the Navy in 1921, Rogers was working in Yugoslavia when the Second World War broke out. He was recruited by MI6 and became part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) when it was formed in July 1940. During this time Rogers worked undercover, masquerading as a consular clerk and supporting various Resistance organisations against the threat of German occupation. When the country was finally invaded in April 1941, Rogers found himself arrested and thrown into an Austrian concentration camp where records show his colleagues back in London considered him to be in serious danger. Miraculously, his cover as a consulate employee was maintained and he was transferred to a civilian detention camp in Poland some seven months after his initial capture. 

“The work that Rogers carried out for the SOE carried real risk,” said Woolley and Wallis Militaria specialist, Ned Cowell. “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.”

SOE was formally dissolved on 15th January 1946, just six months after Rogers was freed from the Polish detention camp. He returned to work in the oil industry, relocated to Casablanca and passed away in Palma in 1970 at the age of 74.

“The group of medals belonging to Rogers are not especially rare in themselves,” explained Cowell. “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 group features as part of a large section of medals included in the Medals & Coins, Arms & Armour, Militaria auction on 20th November 2019.

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