John Alexander Ferguson was a Sudan War Veteran. After his return in 1885 he married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Condran and became the licensee of the Observer Tavern. Together they ran the pub and raised their six children; four boys (Ernest, John, George and Reginald) and two girls (Elizabeth and Marguerite) in the residence above the pub. When it was demolished in 1909, the current Observer Hotel was built, and the Fergusons continued to run it.
Gripped by patriotism, John and George Ferguson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915. They served in the same unit, the 14th Field Company Australian Engineers.
John was 25 years old when he enlisted with the rank of Lieutenant in October 1915. Two months later he was deployed to Egypt where he was trained in gas warfare. He was shot in the neck on 20 July 1916 in the Battle of Fromelles. He died of his wounds a week after being evacuated to England.
George was only 18 years old when he enlisted in August 1915. He was assigned to the same unit as John and followed him to Egypt and then the Western Front. He also took part the Battle of Fromelles and may well have seen his brother wounded. After his brother’s death, George remained on the frontline and was Killed in Action only three months later during the Battle of the Somme on 25 October 1916.
Both the Ferguson boys were awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and commemoration plaques were sent to the family in the 1920s. Losing two sons in battle must have been heartbreaking. Their father died in September 1920 never to see the medals awarded to his sons. In 1925, and after almost 40 years as licensee, Lizzie transferred the Observer to former soldier Andrew Banks Fyfe and went to live with one of her daughters.
Lest We Forget.