The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (424914) Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Place Europe: France
Accession Number PAFU2015/507.01
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 17 December 2015
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (424914) Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War.

Speech transcript

424914 Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
KIA 10 May 1944
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 17 December 2015

Today we pay tribute to Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, who was killed on active service with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Born in the Sydney suburb of Forest Lodge on 11 April 1916, Herbert Ferguson was the son of William Reid Ferguson and Louisa Benson Ferguson. Growing up, he attended Belmore Central Tech Trade School. A keen sportsman, he played football, cricket, and tennis, and also enjoyed swimming, running, and motorcycle racing. On completing school he was employed as a butcher and smallgoods manufacturer.

On 29 May 1939 Ferguson married Margaret Phylis Foster. Together they had a son, Alan Reid Ferguson, born on 12 January 1940.

In 1942 Herbert Ferguson learnt that his brother, Gordon Reid Ferguson, who had enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force and was serving on attachment in the Royal Air Force with No. 148 Squadron, had been killed on operations in June 1942. Shortly after this, Herbert also enlisted in the RAAF, on 9 October, and began training as an air gunner.

In June 1943 Ferguson embarked in Brisbane for overseas service. As part of the Empire Air Training Scheme he was one of almost 27,000 RAAF pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners, and engineers who joined Australian and British squadrons in Britain throughout the course of the war.

Arriving in Britain, Ferguson undertook further specialist training before being posted in February 1944 to No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force. As part of Bomber Command, the squadron flew the four-engine Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.

On the night of 10 May 1944 the Lancaster in which Ferguson was an air gunner was taking part in a large raid on the railway yards in Lille in northern France. This raid was in support of the forthcoming Allied landings in Normandy.

During this raid the Allied aircraft came under attack from German night-fighters. Ferguson’s Lancaster was one of those shot down, crashing into a factory in the south-east suburbs of Lille. Ferguson was killed along with his crewmates: Australians Flight Sergeant Brian Gordon Grasby, Flight Sergeant William Hancock, and Pilot Officer William Felstead, and Britons Sergeant Charles Arthur Nash, Sergeant Cyril Duthoit, and Sergeant John Mellor.

Herbert Ferguson was 28 years old. His body is buried in the Hellemmes–Lille Communal Cemetery in Lille.

Ferguson’s name and those of his Australian crewmates are listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among the names of some 40,000 other Australians who died serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope of a better world.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (424914) Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson, No. 467 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Second World War. (video)