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FERGUSON, William Aitchison (1893-1918) +

FERGUSON, William Aitchison (1893-1918)

William Aitchison Ferguson was born on 13 December 1893, the son of Mephan and Agnes nee Shand. He was educated at Geelong College where he was enrolled in 1909 giving his address as 'Falkirk', Sydney Rd, Royal Park, and later, at Scotch College, Melbourne.

W Ferguson (J Ferguson)

W Ferguson (J Ferguson)

During World War I, he enlisted (No 13165) in the AIF on 30 October 1916, and embarked for England with 1st Reinforcement Group on HMAT A34 Persic on 22 December 1916, and ultimately France, where he served as a Driver with the 2nd Motor Transport Company, Australian Army Service Corps. He died of sickness on 30 November 1918, aged 24, nineteen days after the cessation of hostilities. William Ferguson was buried at Hospice Military Cemetery, at Dury-les-Amiens, Ref. 62E.R27b although he was later re-interred at Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery, Fouilloy - Grave XIIIA.BB.9.

The Officer in charge of Base Records wrote to Ferguson’s next of kin, describing the circumstances of the closure of Dury Military Cemetery:
'It is disclosed in the course of a report from the Imperial War Graves Commission that in order to reach Dury Hospital Military Cemetery visitors were compelled to pass through the grounds of a French Lunatic Asylum where the inmates were at work. Notwithstanding that the local authorities fully sympathised with our representations in the matter, it was found impossible to provide other means of access, and in the interests of relatives the Commission decided to remove the graves to the nearest British Cemetery as the only practicable way of overcoming the difficulty.'

During the Second World War his nephew, Captain John Boyd Ferguson, the son of John Mepham and Mary Ferguson, and husband of Jean Elsie Ferguson, was killed in action in New Guinea on 7th September 1943 while serving with 2/33rd Battalion, when a Liberator carrying eleven airmen, and loaded with four 500 pound bombs and 2,800 gallons of petrol took off from Jackson’s Strip, and clipped a tree. The ensuing inferno involving five trucks containing members of the 2/33rd Battalion, mainly Captain Ferguson’s company, resulted in the death of all the crew of the plane, as well as fifteen infantrymen, 44 dying of injuries, as well, 92 were injured but survived. Captain Ferguson was buried at Bomana War Cemetery - Grave C1.E.7, alongside his colleagues lost on that fateful day. Captain J B Ferguson’s widow also served as WX1569 Captain J E Ferguson, 2/11th Australian General Hospital until her discharge in March, 1947.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp36-37 (citing Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Australian War Memorial; National Archives; David Dexter, Australia in the War of 1939-1945: The New Guinea Offensives; Photo ‘Jim’ Ferguson.)
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