LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid FERGUSON

Service No: 424914
Born: Forest Lodge NSW, 11 April 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 October 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LL788), France, 10 May 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Hellemmes-Lille Communal Cemetery, Nord, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Reid Ferguson and Louisa Benson Ferguson; husband of Margaret Phylis Ferguson, of Hurlstone Park, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Hurlstone Park
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 10-11 May 1944
Target: Lille Marshalling Yards
Total Force: Dispatched – 89, Attacking – 86
RAAF Force: Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 31
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 419
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 – 3

The heaviest setback suffered by the RAAF squadrons was on 10th-11th May when Waddington provided 31 of the total force of 86 Lancasters which attacked Lille, near the Belgian border. Squadron Leader Locke (1) of No. 97 Squadron (RAF) controlled this force and the bombing was very concentrated and effective. Gun defences were not unduly heavy but in numerous combats with enemy fighters Nos. 463 and 467 each lost one flight commander and two other crews, or 20 per cent of the crews sent out.

(1) Squadron Leader Harry Baker Locke DSO DFC (401980) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 July 1947.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 28, 30

Lancaster LL788 took off from RAF Waddington at 2204 hours on the night of 10/11th May 1944 to bomb railway yards at Lille, France. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Seventeen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including LL788 failed to return. It was established post war that the aircraft crashed in the south eastern suburbs of Lille.

The crew members of LL788 were:

Sergeant Cyril Duthoit (1431527) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead (420870) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Herbert William Reid Ferguson (424914) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Brian Gordon Grasby (417176) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Stanley Hancock (422506) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant John Mellor (1580333) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Charles Arthur Nash (2221020) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL881 (Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward DFC (420413) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL882 (Squadron Leader Mervyn Powell DFC (402817) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster HK535 (Flight Lieutenant Eric McLaren Scott (425226) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM475 (Flight Sergeant Alastair Dale Johnson (425413) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster EE143 (Pilot Officer Douglas Hislop (414797) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/13/233