Ernest Lyon Ferris

    Ernest Lyon Ferris was born in Dufferin County, Ontario, on 21 August, 1883, to Mrs. Sarah Ferris. Ernest was raised in Edmonton, Alberta. While prior to the war, he worked as a broker and belonged to the 101st Edmonton Fusiliers, Canadian Non-Permanent Active Militia. On June 29, 1915, Ernest Ferris enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Edmonton and was posted to the 66th Edmonton Guards Overseas Infantry Battalion. He left from Halifax on April 28, 1916, a Captain with the 187th Central Alberta Infantry Battalion, CEF.1

    Cpt. Ferris was posted to the 49th Canadian Infantry Battalion on June 20, 1916, and began serving with the unit when he arrived in France on July 14. Shortly after joining the 49th Battalion, on July 22, Ferris was reverted to the rank of Lieutenant.2 The 49th Battalion (Edmonton Regiment) was a member of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade within the 3rd Canadian Division.3 Ferris and his unit were ordered to go into the line on September 15, 1916, in preparation for the attack on Courcelette. Only 20 officers were ordered to go into the line, the remainder being left in reserve with a number of senior NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers).4 The battalion took up positions on the flank of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry later that day. On the evening of September 16 the 49th Battalion took part in the surprise assault on Zollern Graben, a German trench. The unit attacked northwards from their position at Fabeck Graben in an attempt to secure a front line from which the 9th Infantry Brigade would launch their attack.5

    The war diaries for the battalion on September 16 report: “On this date the enemy heavily shelled the Battalion periodically, causing numerous casualties.” During the night of September 16/17 the Battalion was relieved by companies from the 9th Infantry Brigade. “The casualties suffered by the Battalion during these two days were: five officers killed, twelve wounded. Thirty-eight other ranks killed, one hundred seventy-nine wounded, nineteen missing. A total of 253 for the Battalion.”6

    One of the 253 casualties for the 49th Battalion was Lt. Ernest Ferris, killed during the Battle of the Somme fighting at Flers-Courcelette.7

    Ernest Ferris is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France, one of over 11 000 Canadians killed in France during the First World War with no known grave.

1. "Ferris, Ernest Lyon," RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 760-46, Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

2. "Ferris, Ernest Lyon."

3. G.W.L Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War (Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1962), [Page 171].

4. "War Diaries -49th Infantry Battalion," War Diaries of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

5. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, [Page 172].

6. "War Diaries - 49th Infantry."

7. "Ferris, Ernest Lyon."