About David Ferris
David Ferris was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His parents were James and Margaret Ferris. David was a shipwright who trained at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyards. He married Bertha in 1915 ,just before he embarked for Gallipoli.
David was working in the pearl shell industry from about 1905. He built the lugger Fremantle in Broome in 1907.He was listed in the electoral roll and the Wise Directory as a shipwright from 1906-1915. David enrolled for the AIF while in Broome, his attestation paper was signed by the Mayor of Broome, W. Clarke-Hall and his medical was performed by Smythe-Yule, Broome’s medical officer.
David enlisted for the AIF in February 1915, when he was 38 years old. He was assigned to the 28th Battalion, C Company, a unit that included many other men from Broome. The unit embarked from Fremantle aboard the Ascanuis and arrived in Gallipoli in September, just as the campaign was winding down to the evacuation which began in December. After some time in Egypt, where the AIF underwent reorganisation David and his unit were sent to Marseilles. It was in July 1916 at Pozieres, on the Somme that David lost his life.
David was declared missing in action, and the Australian military advised his wife Bertha that he had been located in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. But Bertha did not hear anything further from her husband despite desperately writing to the AIF and the Red Cross seeking more information. It wasn’t until a Court of Inquiry two years later that the AIF finally determined that David had in fact been killed at Pozieres and had not been taken prisoner.
Pozières : The Battle of the Somme
In July 1916 the 28th Battalion, as part of the 2nd Division was involved in a series of attacks aimed at the capture of key German positions and the wearing down of the enemy. By the 23rd July the 1st & 2nd Division had been successful in capturing the Pozières village despite almost continuous artillery fire and repeated German counter-attacks. A further push to take Pozières heights was planned for the 29th July but the Germans were ready and the attack failed at a cost of 3,500 Australian casualties, including six men from Broome.
We made a charge on the night of Friday July 28th soon after midnight. The various companies went over in a wave. The Germans opened tremendous fire on us with artillery trench mortar, machine gun and every conceivable form of weapon. The men were falling in all directions.