Ian Bruce Ferguson

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Ian Bruce Ferguson
AWM P01813 Ian Bruce Ferguson Korea 1950.jpg
Ferguson (right) with two US Army officers during the Korean War
Born (1917-04-13)13 April 1917
Wellington, New Zealand
Died 21 December 1988(1988-12-21) (aged 71)
Canberra, Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1939–1967
Rank Colonel
Commands held 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
Battles/wars

World War II

Korean War

Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Colonel Ian Bruce Ferguson DSO, MC (13 April 1917 – 21 December 1988) was an officer in the Australian Army who served in World War II and the Korean War.

Early life[edit]

Ferguson was born on 13 April 1917 in Wellington, New Zealand, the only child of D’Arcy Stuart Ferguson and Ethel May, née Rattray. His parents divorced and he lived with his mother. His mother later married Sydney Wren, who worked for Reuters.[1] His education was varied as he travelled with his mother and step father, attending schools in Wellington, Melbourne, London, Paris and Dunedin.[1] After completing his education he working as a cadet journalist in Wellington. Upon the declaration of World War II, he was working with the newspaper the Sydney Sun.

World War II[edit]

Enlisting in the Australian Army on 3 November 1939 he was allotted to the 2/1st Battalion. Identified for his potential he was transferred to the intelligence section of 16th Brigade headquarters.[1] Arriving in the Middle East in February 1940, he was promoted to sergeant and later commissioned probationary lieutenant on 27 June. As the brigade intelligence officer, he participated in the battles of Bardia and Tobruk in January 1941. He was posted to the 2/2nd Battalion in May and served with it in Egypt and Syria.[1]

After the recall of Australian forces to help defend Australia, Ferguson having been promoted to captain took over command of 'B' Company, 2/2nd Battalion from Major Charles Green arrived in Australia in August. After having some rest, the battalion sailed to Port Moresby arriving in September was sent along the Kokoda Trail across the Owen Stanley Range to Sanananda as part of the Kokoda Trail campaign.[1] Upon arrival in Sanananda in October–December, the 2/2nd Battalion could only muster eighty-eight out of 550 when placed into reserve. He spent the next nine months unable to take action with the battalion, due to contracting malaria and dengue fever. He was awarded the Military Cross for leadership for actions at Templeton’s Crossing on 20 October.[1][2]

Recovering from his illnesses he was appointed liaison officer at 6th Division headquarters in September 1943 and was promoted to temporary major that month, which became substantive in May 1945.[1] He later attended the Staff School at Cabarlah, Queensland and after completing the course he was posted to the 1st Australian Combined Operations Section in October 1944. He was attached to 7th Division's headquarters and helped plan the amphibious landings at Morotai and Balikpapan. Ferguson was Mentioned in Despatches for his planning.[3]

Interwar[edit]

With the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, he volunteered for service in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, where he commanded a company of the 67th Battalion at Kaita, and later on Eta Jima island. He was appointed second-in-command of the 67th Battalion in 1947. He was later attached to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force headquarters in 1948. He married Alice Elizabeth, née Browne on 26 June a staffer of the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo.[1]

Ferguson was instrumental in reorganising the 67th Battalion, when it was redesignated the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR). When 3RAR was ordered to the Republic of Korea in 1950 to join the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade as part of the United Nations effort during the Korean War, he organised the re-equipping and organisation until Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green became the commanding officer.[1]

Korean War[edit]

Ferguson shortly after taking command of 3RAR, near Pakchon in North Korea, 7 November 1950.

He was appointed to command 3RAR on 8 November and promoted as a temporary lieutenant colonel when Charles Green was mortally wounded by a shell burst while resting in his tent, just after the Battle of Chongju.[1] While commanding 3RAR the battalion participated in the withdrawal from North Korea to south of Seoul, suffered through the bitter winter months, the advances and attacks across the 38th parallel and the Battle of Kapyong in April 1951, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the battalion was awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation, before withdrawal to the Han River and a further advance to the Imjin River.[4] He was relieved of command of 3 RAR on 5 July after eight months in command.[5]

Later life[edit]

After his experiences in Korea, he was appointed to command the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and later the 13th National Service Training Battalion between 1952 and 1953. His promotion to lieutenant colonel was made substantive in October 1957.[1] Ferguson was an instructor between 1959 and 1962 at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra. He was assigned to Southeast Asia Treaty Organization between 1963 and 1966 in Bangkok. He retired from the army on 14 April 1967 and was promoted the rank of colonel. After retiring from the armed forces he became secretary of the Union Club, Sydney between 1969 and 1974.[1]

He died on 21 December 1988 in Canberra and was survived by his wife and their three sons. He was cremated with Anglican rites.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Argent, pp. 382–383.
  2. ^ "No. 36102". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 July 1943. p. 3316. 
  3. ^ "No. 37898". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 March 1947. p. 1092. 
  4. ^ "No. 39233". The London Gazette. 22 May 1951. p. 2817. 
  5. ^ Horner 2008, p. 440.

References[edit]