Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
Mentioned in Despatches
Company Sergeant Major
No. 4849, ‘G’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on Tuesday 26 March 1918 (aged 38)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Regent Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
Headstone in Movilla New Cemetery, Newtownards
In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website, Company Sergeant Major David Ferris’s date of death is recorded as 20 March 1918.
David Ferris was born on 13 November 1879 in the townland of Glasker, Banbridge, Co. Down and he was a son of William and Jane Ferris (nee McCreedy) who were married on 4 November 1867 in Newry and Mourne.
William Ferris worked as a labourer and scutcher and he and Jane had at least six children:
John Alexander (born 19 September 1868 in Ballymacaratty Beg, Banbridge)
William James (born 21 November 1871 in Ballymacaratty Beg, Banbridge)
Sarah Jane (born 25 March 1877 in Lisnagonnell, Banbridge)
David (born 13 November 1879 in Glasker, Banbridge)
Lena (born 14 January 1883 in Ballymacaratty More, Banbridge)
Andrew (born 13 February 1885 in Tullymore, Newry)
David Ferris was a career soldier.
On 10 March 1910 David Ferris was presented with a gold watch on the occasion of his leaving the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles to take up duty on the Permanent Staff of the Royal North Downs (4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles).
David Ferris and Elizabeth Emily Crawford (nee Seavens), a widow from Newtownards, were married on 21 November 1911 in Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church and they lived at 86 Church Street, Newtownards.
David Ferris was an all-round sportsman and had acknowledged soccer skills. He was on the Royal Irish Rifles team that won the All-Army Challenge Football Cup and for that he received a gold medal and a silver cup. He won at least fourteen other medals on the soccer field. When he was posted to Newtownards, David Ferris readily gave his services to Ards Football Club.
In 1914 David Ferris was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and on 9 January 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. It was reported in the press that he was offered a commission at a later stage but he declined saying that he ‘preferred to stay in the ranks with his comrades’. On 26 January 1916 Company Sergeant Major David Ferris was posted back to his old Battalion – the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He went to the Front and fought through several battles. Company Sergeant Major David Ferris was granted two weeks home leave in February 1918 and less than a month later he died of wounds sustained in action.
Elizabeth Ferris first heard unofficially that David had been mortally wounded but she retained some hope that he was still alive. This hope was eventually dashed some ten months later when she received official confirmation that he had died just five days after the start of the German Spring Offensive which began on 21 March 1918. In a letter dated 28 January 1919 from the Infantry Record Office in Dublin the circumstances of his death were described. His Captain was killed and in an attempt to stem the onrush of the Germans when they broke through the line at St Quentin, David Ferris led an attack on a nest of enemy machine guns. He received such serious injuries from shell and machine gun fire that both of his legs were shattered.
David Ferris and his comrades were taken prisoners of war and they carried him on an improvised stretcher to a German field hospital at Flavy-le-Martel where he died some six hours later without regaining consciousness. Company Sergeant Major David Ferris was 38 when he died and has no known grave.
Company Sergeant Major David Ferris is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the PCI Roll of Honour for Regent Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
Elizabeth Emily Ferris died in Newtownards on 24 June 1939 and she, her husband David, Colour Sergeant H Crawford and Sergeant William McVeigh are all commemorated together on a headstone in Movilla New Cemetery, Newtownards.