Ferguson, James Ernest

Ferguson, James Ernest (James)

Second Lieutenant

4th Battalion attached 10th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Killed in action on Friday 20 April 1917 (aged 35)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France (Bay 9)

Bangor Masonic Hall

St John’s (Malone) Church of Ireland Church Belfast – Memorial Tablet

St John’s (Malone) Church of Ireland Church Belfast – Stained Glass Window


James Ernest (James) Ferguson was born on 4 April 1882 in Longford Villas, Antrim Road, Belfast and he was the only son of James Hyndman Ferguson and Jane Ferguson (nee Kennedy) who were married on 26 August 1879 in Bangor Abbey Church of Ireland Church (then Bangor Parish Church).  James Hyndman Ferguson from Belfast was a son of James Baxter Ferguson, a merchant.  Jane Kennedy from Bangor was a daughter of Thomas Kennedy, a merchant.

James Ernest Ferguson had one sister – Helen Marguerite Ferguson – who was born on 29 May 1880 in Longford Villas, Antrim Road, Belfast.

James Hyndman Ferguson was a starch manufacturer and in 1901 the Ferguson family lived in India Street, Belfast and in 1911 they lived at 392 Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Helen Marguerite Ferguson and Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Richard Wills (RAMC) were married in St John’s Parish Church of Ireland Church, Malone, Belfast on 20 June 1906 and by 1911 they had three children – Marjorie Septima Wills and twins Samuel Kennedy Wills and Richard Hyndman Wills who were born in India.  The Wills family lived with Helen’s widowed father and Helen’s brother, James Ernest Ferguson, who was a civil engineer.  Her mother, Jane Ferguson, died of cancer at Ballyholme, Bangor on 13 February 1910 (aged 57).

During the Great War James Ernest Ferguson served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.  The war diary for April 1917 indicates that the 10th Battalion marched out of billets at La Perriere on 8 April and proceeded to Bruay.  They were being held in reserve for the Vimy Push and on 11 April 1917 they proceeded to Magnicourt in a snowstorm.  They proceeded by bus to Arras on 14 April 1917 and marched up to the trenches at 6.00 pm.  On 15 April 1917, the Battalion made an unsuccessful attack on the village of Gavrelle and an officer and 13 other ranks were killed.  After the Battalion was relieved on 16 April 1917 it provided working parties to repair the road from St Nicholas to Balleul.  On each of the following days the Battalion exchanged fire with the enemy and on 20 April 1917 Second Lieutenant James Ernest Ferguson was killed in action.  Sixteen days earlier he had celebrated his 35th birthday.

Second Lieutenant James Ernest Ferguson has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

His effects in England amounted to some £384 and probate was granted to his father, James Hyndman Ferguson, and to his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Richard Wills.  At that time his home address was given as 1 Myrtlefield Park, Belfast.

James Hyndman Ferguson (aged 80) died on 16 February 1921.

Second Lieutenant James Ernest Ferguson is commemorated on the First World War Memorial Plaque in Bangor Masonic Hall.