Ted Rogers, who has died aged 90, was a founder of ex-serviceman's CND, union activist and lifelong socialist. Ted's grandchildren - of whom I am one - vividly recall his appearance in the 1983 instalment of BBC's Rock & Roll years, laying a wreath on the Cenotaph at the huge CND demonstration of that year. In the foreword to Ted's autobiography, Journeyman, veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent wrote: "In our different ways we are all extraordinary. But Ted Rogers' life story is more extraordinary than most."
Read the rest of this obituary by Simon Rogers in The Guardian.
A number of years ago when I was about eighty years old I was stopped by a lady who wanted to know if I happened to be Simon Weston. I was quite used to having people mistake me for another man who, like me, had severe facial disfigurement. I didn't mind that. It was quite understandable. Fire had forged a remarkable similarity on many of us who had served in the Second World War, but I didn't want to be confused with Simon Weston, even if, in all probability, I was old enough to be his grandfather. So my answer was, "No, I'm not Simon Weston". To which she replied, "That's a pity. If you had been Simon Weston I would have liked to shake your hand".
Any young man suffering Simon Weston's injuries must attract sympathy, but there are more terrible consequences of war and like it or not at the time of the Falklands war we were invited to forget the hundreds of young men killed in the sinking of the Belgrano, or the men who died on the Sheffield, and instead to look at how bravely Simon was facing up to his injuries and rejoice in our victory. Rather than rejoicing, I would protest against the use of weapons of war at all. In 1945 we set up the United Nations "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and here we were sending young men to fight for the almost forgotten scraps left over from the British Empire. If we couldn't use the U.N. to sort out that little issue, then the time had come to reform the U.N.
War is such an outdated way of attempting to solve international disputes.
In his autobiography, Journeyman, Ted Rogers describes his youth in Sunderland as a bricklayer and trades union activist, his war-time experiences in Africa, where he was badly burned in a dive-bombing raid. He underwent extensive (and pioneering) plastic surgery, but as soon as his children were old enough, he and his wife Enid bought a boat (advertised ominously as "a boat of character") which they repaired and sailed around the Mediterranean. They sold the Veng, and, undeterred by their experiences (which included arrest by an Albanian gunboat), put the proceeds towards building a new boat, which they sailed across the Atlantic.
"There are no ordinary people. In our different ways we are all extraordinary. But Ted Rogers' life story is more extraordinary than most."