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Hector James Abbott FERGUSON MC & Bar


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Lieut 29y 21/08/14 21/10/17 KA 3 & 7

Lieutenant Hector James Abbott Ferguson MC (1885-1917)

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.  (A photograph shown in the gallery 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 and 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 in this series have been written about each brother - Hector, Malcolm, Douglas and Norman - who served in the Great War 1914-1919. 

Hector James Abbot Ferguson's early life

Hector James Abbott Ferguson was born in South Brisbane on 14 December 1885, the third son of James and Eliza Jane née Abbott.  While attending Brisbane Grammar School from February 1900 to June 1902, he served in the school cadet corps.  He gained qualifications as a mechanical engineer and for five years was employed at Wilson Engineering Works, Elizabeth Street, Brisbane.  He was responsible for the supervision of the equipment of several meat freezing and other engineering works in Queensland.

Enlistment

When he enlisted on 21 August 1914 in the Australian Imperial Force, Sapper Ferguson, single, age 29 years, service number 87, was amongst the first young men in the young Commonwealth of Australia to volunteer for service abroad.  His unit, 1st Division Signal Company sailed from Port Melbourne on 20 October aboard HMAT Karroo and arrived in Egypt in December 1914.

Promotions and Commissions

Promoted Lance Corporal in April 1915, Hector Ferguson did splendid work at Gallipoli Landing from April 25 for which he was mentioned in Divisional Orders and he was promoted to the rank of Corporal.  Except for a brief period of rest at Imbros to recover from wounding during July, he stayed on Gallipoli till 25 November when he was again promoted, this time to Sergeant. The 3rd Brigade spent a couple of months in Egypt at the beginning of 1916 before going to Marseilles, France.

He received a commission in March 1916 as Officer in Charge, 3rd Section, 1st Australian Division, Signal Company.  Lieutenant Ferguson was transferred to No 1 Section in June 1917 and remained in command till killed in action on 21 October 1917, at Reninghelst, Belgium.

He had been engaged in heavy fighting at Anzac Landing, Lone Pine and Suvla Bay, Pozières, German Retreat, Bullecourt, Menin Road and Zonnebeke.

Awarded the Military Cross and Bar

Hector Ferguson was awarded the Military Cross early in 1917. General Birdwood wrote: 

“I know how the telephone and telegraph wires of our 3rd Brigade were blown out during the heavy shelling and how you and your companion Tinkler led your men out and personally supervised the mending and re-erection of the lines.

You were under heavy shell fire which lasted for about six hours, but during which you re-established communications. This was I think a fine piece of work on which I heartily congratulate you.”

In recognition of his brave and distinguished conduct at Menin Road on 20 September 1917, Lieutenant Ferguson was awarded a bar to the MC for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.

"He was in charge of a cable burying party and later of all communications forward from cable head. He showed great courage, energy and powers of organisation in maintaining communication, and personally led parties to repair lines under heavy fire.  It was mainly due to his untiring efforts that the communications of the division were kept up during the operations.”

On sad days in mid-October 1917 his father, Mr James Ferguson, was advised by Rev Dr Merrington of Hector’s death just days after his wife had passed away in Brisbane.


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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