Gerald Garfield Ferguson was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on February 1, 1915. He came from a large family of five boys and eight girls, the children of Agnes Caroline (née MacAusland) and Harry Garfield Ferguson, both from Prince Edward Island.
Gerald, or Reg as he was more commonly known, grew up and was schooled in Charlottetown. He studied business at Prince of Wales College, also in Charlottetown. Growing up, Reg always had an interest in military matters. He took cadet training while in school and maintained a keen interest in military affairs while at Prince of Wales College. Other interests included hockey, football, horse racing and swimming. He was also very fond of music. Prior to the war, Reg was employed as a section foreman for Canadian National Railway and served in the militia. Reg’s sister, Hilda, fondly recalled the deep respect Reg had for their parents and how he was well known for his kindness to family and friends.
When was declared in 1939, Reg was immediately called up, and on October 19, 1939, in Charlottetown, he signed on to the active forces, Prince Edward Island Highlanders. His rank was 2nd lieutenant. On May 5, 1940, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. During the next year and a half, Reg was posted to various parts of Canada for training and courses, including Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Woodstock, Ontario; Gander and Botwood, Newfoundland; Vernon, British Columbia; and Sussex and Saint John, New Brunswick. On June 1, 1943, Reg was posted to No. 1 Transit Camp and on the 10th embarked for the U.K. After landing in the U.K., he was attached to the 7th Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit, and in August, he was transferred to the Cape Breton Highlanders who were still training in England at the time. At the end of October, 1943, Reg embarked for Italy with the Cape Breton Highlanders. The battalion saw action for the first time in January, 1944.
On March 12, 1944, the Cape Breton Highlanders were in static positions along the Arielli sector of the Adriatic front, their second such assignment along that front. According to the war diary of the Cape Breton Highlanders, at 7:40 pm, Reg led a four man patrol across the Arielli River to make a detailed reconnaissance of the terrain between two fords. They advanced without incident past the first ford to an area where an occupied enemy slit trench had been discovered several nights previous. Cpl. Price and another man were then left behind as a covering party while Reg and the two remaining men continued forward. They had only advanced several yards past a nearby hay stack, when Reg stepped on a German anti-personnel S-Mine and was severely wounded. The two men with him were also wounded, one seriously. Immediately following the explosion, enemy machine guns opened fire.
Realizing what had happened, Cpl. Price of the covering section, took command of the patrol and the casualties were withdrawn under enemy fire. They took shelter behind the bank of the river and the one remaining unwounded man was sent back to the battalion for help.
At five past midnight on March 13th, just before stretcher bearers arrived, Reg succumbed to his wounds. He had regained consciousness for a short time and with his last words, had expressed concern for his men. All the casualties were evacuated back to the battalion area by 2:40 am.
Gerald Garfield Ferguson was laid to rest in Moro River Canadian Cemetery, Ortona, Italy. At the time of his death, he was a member of “A” Company, Cape Breton Highlanders, and held the rank of lieutenant. He was 29 years old.
For additional information on Reg Ferguson, refer to the following online source:
I would like to thank Mrs. Hilda Szalay of Sherwood, PEI, sister of Reg Ferguson. We corresponded by mail in 1992. She provided family information and was kind enough to lend me photographs, letters and newspaper clippings pertaining to her brother. All items were copied and returned by mail in 1992. The Statement of Service in Section 13 is from my own collection.