[Transcript of Recommendation of Award]
Date of Recommendation
Rank and Name
Action for which recommended -
OPERATIONS IN BURMA - MARCH 1943
On 2nd March 1943, Major FERGUSSON led his Column (No. 5) away from the Brigade Group, which was then marching southwards down the MU Valley on PINLEBU, and made his way via MANKAT to the BONCHAUNG Gorge. The speed of movement of his Column during this vitally important march was most creditable, the whole distance of some sixty miles of mountain and forest being traversed in three days. These three days were the last days of a long and arduous march of some 400 miles from MANIPUR ROAD, carried out with scarcely a break. On arrival in the neighbourhood of the BONCHAUNG Gorge, Major FERGUSSON at once organised the destruction of the railway bridge at BONCHAUNG Station and the bringing down of the gorge on to the line some three miles further south. This operation was well and truly carried out on the 6th March 1943, two spans of the bridge being blown into the river bed and damaged beyond repair; one of these spans being 100 feet and the other 40. At the same time, while the Column was engaged in extensive destruction of the line to the south, the cliff side was blown onto the track, bringing down hundreds of tons of rock and soil. while completing this operation, Major FERGUSSON vigorously patrolled the neighbourhood and encountered the enemy at KYAUK-IN, where a successful brush took place, resulting in fifteen enemy dead.
From the BONCHAUNG GORGE, No.5 Column rapidly marched to TIGYAING on the IRRAWADDY where FERGUSSON crossed with great boldness in broad daylight, having carried out successful propaganda among the inhabitants of the town. The Japanese arrived too late to prevent the crossing.
No. 5 Column then proceeded south to the NAM PAN with the intention of marching on the GOKTEIK Gorge. The general situation of the Brigade at this time made it necessary to deny the Column a much needed supply dropping, which caused it much suffering, throwing all the greater strain on its Commander.
The column was ordered to rejoin the Brigade Group which it did on the HEHTIN CHAUNG on 26th March, and set out on the return march to INDIA. On 27th March, the Column was in the rear of the Brigade when a small party of the enemy delivered an attack on the Burma Rifles HQ. Major FERGUSSON was ordered to lay an ambush to prevent the enemy following up the Brigade Group. He did this thoroughly, including laying out a false bivouac which successfully drew the enemy's fire. The next day, however, in attempting to lead his column through HINTHA Village, he became heavily engaged with a Company of the enemy, and after a stubborn fight lasting for well over an hour he was compelled to disperse his Column and proceed to the operational rendezvous. That this rendezvous, some twenty five miles to the north, was duly reached on the same day by the bulk of his Column, is a tribute to Major FERGUSSON's training and personality. He himself was wounded in the action at HINTHA, but determined under no circumstances to surrender to the enemy or to give up the attempt to reach INDIA. He, therefore, took command of his dispersal group and marched back to the CHINDWIN, a distance of some three hundred miles, without losing more than a small number of his group.
Throughout the campaign, the personal leadership and fighting qualities of this officer made his Column the best and most reliable of the three British Columns, thus reversing its position in these respects before he took command. His personal courage and example were of the greatest value to his officers and men, and enabled him to lead his column through vicissitudes that might have proved too much for other Columns.
Brigadier O.C. Wingate, DSO
Comdr. 77th Indian Infantry Brigade
Honour or Reward
Comdr. 77 Ind. Inf. Bde.
Commander-in-Chief in India
(London Gazette 06.08.1943)