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Name: Fergusson T.St
Commissioned in Palestine after Syrian campaign and sent as carrier platoon officer to 2/7 Battalion. The battalion was part of the 17th Brigade which had spent four months on garrison duty in Ceylon and had been sent to Milne bay almost immediately on its return to Australia.
KIA in action against the Japanese at Buna Showing the Yanks how its Done. Shot by a tree sniper. Carriers just don’t work in the jungle.
From "The Green Fields Beyond" ...........A major assault was ordered for 5 December with Australian carriers taking the place of the Australian tanks which had not arrived. Thirteen infantry carriers, detached from the 18th Brigade, were allotted to the action under the command of Terry Fergusson, only 23 ears of age. Only five of the carriers could be landed and the rest were returned. Four of the carriers would be manned by men from 2/7 Battalion, the fifth by 2/5 Battalion personnel. Each carrier would have a crew of four.
While the carriers would serve to transport fire power, the purpose of stiffening American morale by the inclusion of Australians was by no means secondary. These were seasoned crews who were not likely to flinch under fire and their presence would hearten the Americans who, for almost three weeks now, had been taking much and giving little.
The decision to use carriers against fixed defences across soft ground strewn with concealed logs was savage in the extreme. Snipers were tied in the tree tops and the vehicles carried no overhead cover. Their thin steel skins provided little protection against guns of medium or better calibre, particularly as range in the jungle was minimal.
When the battle began Fergusson advanced his carriers in line, his own in the centre, in front of an American battalion. The speed was only two miles and hour to allow the American infantry keep pace. Logs hidden in vines also held down the speed of the vehicles. With less than 50 yards travelled, one carrier was cast across a long, from which position its crew continued to engage concealed enemy pits. A second carrier was put out of action and the four men of its crew either killed our wounded after a bitter battle.
Meanwhile Fergusson had come under heavy fire from posts at ground level and from sipers in the trees. When his driver was hit, he took control of the carrier himself. As he looked for the Americans who should have been in close support, this carrier, too, became jammed amongst logs. Fergusson, who had inherited his father's remarkable courage, stood to call to his sergeant - who had left the second carrier, though badly wounded, was fighting gallantly on open ground - and was killed instantly when a sniper shot him through the head. Another crew member was killed when he attempted to remove Fergusson's body from the driver's seat.
By this time the other two carriers also were bellied across logs and further casualties had been caused. The five carriers were out of action and upwards of a dozen men had been killed or wounded in this inferno of a fight which had lasted only half an hour. When, later, Fergusson's second-in-command came out to bring in the bodies and search for casualties, he also was killed.
While the crews had been suffering so heavily from snipers and mortar bombs and grenades which burst within their unprotected vehicles, the American battalion's attack had ground to a halt. Other US units engaged in the battle for Buna had made some gains but in the centre of the field no objectives had been taken.
In Memory of
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