Zambia gives military funeral to Northern Irish WWII hero

Zambia has given a full military funeral to a Co Antrim civil engineer who played a role in building the country's railways and mines.

Monday, 11th December 2017, 8:11 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 5:09 pm
RAF Flight Lieutenant Frank Ferguson receives his medal during the presentation to former servicemen of the Legion D'Honneur medals, France's highest decoration, at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, in February 2016. Photo: Robbie Hodgson/PA Wire.

Flight Lieutenant Frank Ferguson lived a colourful life, having also been awarded the Legion d’honneur honour by France for his heroic RAF exploits over the country during World War Two.

The RAF Association Carrickfergus Branch said their esteemed member died on holiday in Zambia on December 2, aged 94.

Branch member John Hewitt said he was born in Doagh, Country Antrim, in 1923 and was educated at Coleraine College and Queen’s University Belfast where he studied for an aeronautical degree.

He joined the RAF volunteer reserve and Queen’s Air Squadron in 1941 and was soon selected to become a navigator/radio operator.

In 1943 he was posted to RAF Twinwood where he met his pilot, Squadron Leader Elwell.

Their first kill together was on February 15, 1944, when they shot down two enemy aircraft, an Me 110 and an Me 410. The next month they shot down two Focke Wulf 190s.

“Frank and Squadron Leader Elwell were a formidable team and went on to attack targets in Cherbourg, Caen, Seine, Alecon, Argentan, Rouen, Dieppe, Abbeyville and Le Harve,” Mr Hewitt said.

“By the time he left the RAF [in 1946] Frank had carried out 80 operations and flew a total of 479 flying hours in fourteen different types of aircraft.”

He then studied architecture and town planning at Queen’s, becoming a civil engineer in 1949 and forming his own company, Frank Ferguson and Associates.

“A lot of his work was carried out in Zambia where he was involved in building railways and mines.

“The Zambian Government thought so highly of Frank and in recognition of his work for their country they have decided to give Frank a full military funeral where his body will be cremated and the ashes sent home to be scattered in his beloved Northern Ireland.”

Branch vice chairman Wing Commander Noel Williams said: “Frank was awarded the Legion D’Honneur by the French government [its highest decoration] following his heroic feats over France in 1944-45. It was presented to him, very belatedly, in 2016 and the branch was delighted to host Frank and his son at our annual dinner that year when he gave us a short overview of what was a truly heroic life in the air with the RAF.”