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Douglas Abbott FERGUSON


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
2 Lieut 26y6m 23/8/1/15 10/8/18 - D accident 3 & 7

Second Lieutentant Douglas Abbott Ferguson (1889 - 1918)

Ferguson Brothers Booklet 

The Ferguson Family and Abbotsford

James Ferguson of Brisbane and Eliza Jane née Abbott (known as Jeanne), fifth daughter of Thomas Abbott of Dungog, New South Wales were married at Crescent Lodge, Rockhampton on 3 October 1876.  The Minister of the Rockhampton Presbyterian Church, Rev. Alexander Hay officiated.  Mr James Ferguson was the senior partner in the firm Watson Ferguson and Company, booksellers, stationers and printers.

The Ferguson family home was Abbotsford at Enoggera, a magnificent colonial home with wide verandahs on all sides. It was situated on a large property or “paddock” used for the Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Sabbath School annual picnic for many years.  The cover photograph could well be such an occasion.  In 1924 the land was subdivided and a portion of the house was moved to Gizeh Street.  It is now called Hoya.  Portion of the larger paddock is now called Ferguson Park, near Gaythorne Railway Station.

Nine children were born to Mr and Mrs Ferguson.  Three sons died in infancy.  Of the other five sons, four enlisted for service abroad in the Great War.  Eric Abbott Ferguson, the eldest, remained at home and continued his father’s business. The only girl in the family was the youngest child, Jean Abbott Ferguson (1895 – 1967) who later married Captain Henry Cottam (1882 – 1945).

Two of the four soldier sons, Hector and Douglas, paid the supreme sacrifice. Norman and Malcolm returned to Australia.  After the death of their father Mr James Ferguson in 1926, a monument was placed in the graveyard of St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Grovely, in memory of Mr and Mrs Ferguson, their three infant sons and their two sons who did not return.  Stories have been written about each of the Ferguson brothers who served in the Great War 1914-1919.  This is Douglas' story. 

Early life

Douglas Abbott Ferguson was born at South Brisbane on 11 March 1889, fourth son of James Ferguson and Eliza Jane née Abbott.  He attended Brisbane Grammar School in 1905 and became a mining and mechanical engineer.  Like his elder brother Hector, he had been employed at James Wilson Engineering Works, Elizabeth Street, Brisbane for some five years before enlisting for overseas service in the Australian Imperial Force on 23 August 1915.  

Enlistment

Gunner Ferguson, service number 7305 joined the Fifth Artillery Brigade and embarked from Sydney on HMAT Persic on 18 November 1915, bound for Alexandria.  In Egypt he joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force for training but transferred to the British Expeditionary Force for service on the Western Front, disembarking at Marseilles, France on 25 March 1917.

In the ensuing months Doug Ferguson was engaged on the dangerous battlefields of the Somme – Armentières, Pozières, Mouquet Farm, Hamel and Bullecourt.  His war service then changed as he transferred to the Australian Flying Corps in July 1917 at Halton, Wendover in Buckinghamshire.  His service form notes an offence on 14 October 1917 – “inattention on parade at 2 pm” – for which he was awarded 5 days C.C. (confined to camp).

Killed in a flying accident at the Royal Flying Corps School

On 8 January 1918 he joined Royal Flying Corps School of Military Aeronautics, Oxford to qualify as a Flying Officer (Pilot) Cadet, with rank of Lieutenant.  During final testing before going with his plane to The Front, Doug Ferguson was killed as a result of a flying accident through collision with another plane.

Doug’s father, James Ferguson Esq., received an official letter from the Major in charge of base records:

“With reference to the report of the regrettable loss of your son, the late 2nd Lieutenant D A Ferguson, Australian Flying Corps, I am now in receipt of advice which shows he was killed on 18.8.18 – the result of an aeroplane accident at Leighterton, Gloucester.

“He was buried at 1.30 pm on 22.8.18 at Brookwood Cemetery, Brookwood, grave No 181413, section – Australian Military Burial Ground (Non-Conformists).

“The following relatives and friends were present at the funeral:- Brothers No 35681 Gnr Norman Ferguson, 4th Battalion R.B.A.A., Haytesbury, No 7471 Sgt M.A.Ferguson, 2nd Battalion R.B.A.A. Mr Watson Gray, Rood Lane, Fenchurch Street London, and Lieutenant G. Walker, 7th Square A.F.C. Leighterton, Gloucester.

“The deceased officer was accorded a Military Funeral, firing party, band, pallbearers and 2 buglers being in attendance. The coffin of good polished elm was draped with the Australian Flag and surmounted by several beautiful wreaths sent by the following:- Ferguson family, Queenslanders Swansmead, Roy Paterson, Mr and Mrs Watson Gray, Officers of 8th Squadron, AFC Leighterton.

“Chaplain the Rev Wray, AIF London, conducted the service.

“The Last Post was sounded at the graveside by 2 buglers of the South African Regiment. An oak cross has been erected on the grave. Administrative Headquarters, AIF London, were represented at the funeral.”

These were sad days for the Ferguson family of Enoggera.  Doug’s mother died in Brisbane on 11 October 1917 and shortly afterwards his brother was killed in action in Belgium.  On the family monument at Grovely honouring Douglas Abbott Ferguson, these words are inscribed:

Nor let us dream of them as lost or dead,

 Life is but brief at best and death’s control

               Extends not over the heroic soul.


Select Bibliography
The Queenslander, 1 May 1926, page 9
The Brisbane Courier, 7 October 1876; 20 February 1914
Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 30 April 1926
• Australian War Memorial Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Presbyterian Church Brisbane Annual Reports 1901 – 1925 
The Golden Book, Archives, Brisbane Grammar School
The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 17 February 1949
Western Star, Roma, 18 February 1949
• National Archives of Australia, Military records World War 1
• Scott Bennett, Pozières The Anzac Story, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 2011
• Images courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.


Compiled by N. E. Adsett, Brisbane.  October 2014.

 

 

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