William Bell (Will) FERGUSON

FERGUSON, William Bell

Service Number: 1854
Enlisted: 12 October 1915, Adelaide
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 1st Field Artillery Battery
Born: Blinman, South Australia, Australia, 12 November 1894
Home Town: Copley, South Australia
Schooling: Prince Alfred College, Adelaide
Occupation: Station Hand
Died: Natural Causes, Saint Andrews Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia , 3 May 1978, aged 83 years
Cemetery: Privately Cremated
Memorials: Adelaide Scots Church WW1 Honour Board, Blinman & District WW1 Roll of Honor, Blinman Boer War, WW1 & WW2 Honour Rolls, Copley Leigh Creek District Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

12 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1854, 9th Light Horse Regiment, Adelaide
5 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1854, 9th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Afric, Melbourne
1 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 13th Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column
1 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 5th Division Artillery
4 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Gunner, 13th Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column
1 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, 1854
15 Jan 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Gunner, 1st Division Artillery
3 Sep 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Driver, 1854, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, Third Ypres, Shell wound, left leg
19 Feb 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Gunner, 1st Field Artillery Battery
25 Jan 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, 1854, Per Ceramic
29 Jan 1919: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 1st Field Artillery Battery

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Biography contributed by Harvey Williams

William Bell Ferguson was born on the 12th of November 1894 at Blinman, South Australia. He was the second child and first son of William Andrew Ferguson and Rachael Christina Bell. When William was seven years old, Moolooloo pastoral lease was divided up and together with his parents and two sisters, Chrissie, and Dorothy, they moved to Mackay’s Well which had previously been an outpost on the Moolooloo Run. The property was renamed North Moolooloo Station and is situated fifteen kilometres east of Copley.

Like his father, William was sent to Prince Alfred College, in Adelaide, to finish his education. In 1915, at the age of 22 he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force. He left Australia on the 5th of January 1916 from Melbourne on the HMAT Afric A19 to serve overseas during World War One. His service number was 1854. 

William was originally enlisted as part of the 13th Reinforcement of the 9th Light Horse Regiment, which was part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade.  However, whilst in Egypt he was allocated to the Brigade Ammunition Column (BAC) but was then moved into the Artillery in April, 1916 to the 5th Division, bound for France. After he arrived, he suffered from pneumonia and spent several months in hospital in France and England. On the 1st of January 1917, he made it to France and was transferred in the 1st Division Artillery, Divisional Ammunition Column; that is, the men who brought up the huge, constantly demanding supply of shells to the guns.

Straight after that he was moved to the 21st Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) and then the 1st FAB. Both were parts of the 1st Division Artillery, and they were the men who manned and fired the guns and brought shells up. He was both a Gunner and a Driver at different times. He received a gunshot wound in his left leg at Ypres in September 1917, at a time when the Australian artillery had been working flat out since May and under near-constant German shelling in the mud of Flanders. He was sent to England for treatment and returned to his unit in February 1918. 

William was transferred to the 3rd Battery on the 19th of February 1918 and was promoted to (temporary) Corporal on October 3rd, 1918. This promotion was confirmed on the 29th of January 1919. William returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged the following month.

On William’s return home from the war at the age of 24, he took over the management of North Moolooloo Station and sometime later, the ownership. He married Lena Ruby Ragless on the 3rd of April 1919 in Chalmers Church on North Terrace, Adelaide. Together the couple had three children, Marjorie, Helen, and William.

As William aged, he moved into a nursing home in Adelaide until his death on the 3rd of May 1978 at Saint Andrews Hospital at the age of 83. He was cremated and his ashes were buried on the side of Sunset Hill on North Moolooloo Station. William’s wife Lena was also later laid to rest alongside him on the side of Sunset Hill. In 2002, William’s second daughter Helen’s ashes were also placed there.