Pays-Bas / Histoire

A medal for Corporal William John Ferguson




On April 17, 1945, a Canadian infantry regiment is tasked with liberating Apeldoorn. After taking Apeldoorn without resistance, Canadian troops advance towards Nieuw-Milligen. A German ambush awaits them at the Echoput. Corporal Ferguson plays a crucial role.

During the night of April 16 to April 17, 1945, an emergency bridge is placed at the blown-up drawbridge Broeksbrug. After receiving the signal that Apeldoorn is free from Germans, the Canadians pass through the cheering crowd in Apeldoorn from this bridge. "A good-looking soldier had to use his weapon to beat off the girls, and many a fair Dutch maiden's kiss was forced on the boys," as written in their war diary. For the soldiers, it is a welcome experience, but the war is not yet over. They must continue to liberate the rest of the Veluwe and the Netherlands.

The palace of Queen Wilhelmina, Paleis Het Loo, is taken without a shot being fired. At least, the commander, Lieutenant Colonel G.E.B. Renison, fires three shots with his revolver into the air to clear the way from the crowd. At half past nine in the morning, the tactical headquarters is installed in the front yard of Paleis Het Loo. Canadian infantrymen and tanks head onto the Amersfoortseweg towards Nieuw-Milligen half an hour later.

Corporal William John Ferguson is part of the leading platoon. This platoon is tasked with taking the intersection at the Echoput. Three hundred meters before the intersection, a machine gun suddenly opens fire on the leading tank. It turns out to be an ambush by German paratroopers. The intersection is blocked with tree trunks and defended with snipers, machine guns, and anti-tank weapons.

The Canadians launch an attack. Ferguson climbs off the tank and takes cover behind it with his unit. Meanwhile, the tank searches for the machine gun. Then, together with Ferguson, the platoon commander sprints forward to find a better position. The former is hit almost immediately in the stomach. Ferguson, without hesitation, continues and attacks the German machine gun alone with his submachine gun. Meanwhile, the Canadian tanks also come under fire from Germans hidden in the woods and in houses around the intersection. Ferguson, on his own initiative, leads his comrades in the attack towards the intersection and the surrounding houses. They come under heavy fire. During this attack, five Germans are killed, of which Ferguson himself kills two. The resistance is broken. Eighteen Germans surrender. The battalion and the tanks can proceed.

Corporal William Ferguson is later awarded the Military Medal for his great courage, bravery, and personal leadership.

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