The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7305) Second Lieutenant Douglas Abbott Ferguson, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.351
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 16 December 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on Second Lieutenant Douglas Abbott Ferguson, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Speech transcript

Second Lieutenant Douglas Abbott Ferguson, Australian Flying Corps
Accidentally killed, aged 29
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 16 December 2016

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Douglas Abbott Ferguson.

Douglas Ferguson was born on 11 March 1889 to James and Eliza Ferguson of Brisbane. Nine children were born to the couple, with three sons dying in infancy. Douglas’s father was a Scotsman who came to Australia in 1863 and, after initially settling in Sydney, moved to Brisbane, where he became the principal partner in an eminent printing and stationery house. As well as providing a privileged home for his family, James was a philanthropist who founded the first boys’ home in Brisbane, taking homeless boys and getting them suitable employment. Hector’s mother Eliza was from the well-known Abbott family of Dungog, New South Wales.

Abbotsford, the Ferguson family’s home in Enoggera, was known as a centre of hospitality. Douglas attended the Brisbane Grammar School, and later undertook a five-year apprenticeship with Wilson Engineering Works to become a mechanical engineer.

Four of the Ferguson boys enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, while the eldest brother, Eric, stayed home to continue his father’s business. Their mother, too, did her part by engaging in Red Cross work, holding fundraising fetes in the grounds of Abbotsford, and hosting parties for soldiers training at Enoggera. Hector was the first of her sons to enlist, doing so within weeks of the outbreak of war. Douglas followed his elder brother in August 1915, but unlike Hector, who became a signaller, he joined the Field Artillery.

Douglas Ferguson passed his training with the rank of gunner, but in July 1917 he transferred from the artillery to the Australian Flying Corps as a mechanic. In October of that year his mother died suddenly, and a week later his brother Hector was killed in action on the Ypres Salient.

In early 1918 Ferguson began training to qualify as a pilot. He showed promise, and passed instruction courses with the 8th Training Squadron. On 18 August he was involved in a collision while flying a Sopwith Camel near Leighterton in Gloucestershire. During the incident his belt gave way, and he was thrown from the plane. When rescuers reached him he was unconscious, and he died shortly afterwards. He was 29 years old.

Douglas Ferguson was buried at Brookwood Cemetery with full military honours. The ceremony included a firing party, band, and two buglers. His brothers Norman and Malcolm, both of whom were serving with the artillery, were in attendance.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Second Lieutenant Douglas Abbott Ferguson, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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