Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Mayfair, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom

General information


Army information

England, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
 —  Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Jacob Trench, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Menin Road South Military Cemetery
Plot: II
Row: E
Grave: 1

Distinctions and medals 4

1914-15 Star
Medal — 11/10/1922
British War Medal
Medal — 11/10/1922
Victoria Cross
Medal — 06/09/1917
Victory Medal
Medal — 11/10/1922

Points of interest 1

#1 Place of birth

My story

Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson served as the commanding officer of “B” Company in the Northamptonshire Regiment 2nd Battalion, part of the 24th Brigade, of the 8th Division.

On the 31st of July 1917 the Division participated in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, the opening stage of the Third Battle of Ypres. It attacked with two Brigades, plus one in support. The 24th Brigade was on the right of the divisional front and moved along the Menin Road towards the the Bellewaerde Ridge. The 1st Worcesters and the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment were the initial assault troops for the Brigade. Once they had taken the Bellewaerde Ridge, towering above Bellewaerde Lake and Château Wood, the attack was to be taken over by the 2nd East Lancs and the 1st Sherwood Foresters. The 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment was on the left and had an extremely difficult task. It was to skirt Bellewaerde Lake and had to capture Jacob Trench on the crest of Bellewaerde Ridge.

At zero hour, 3.50 a.m. the men left their positions at Kingsway and Kingsway support in wake of a creeping barrage. “B” Company was divided over the third and fourth waves of the Battalion. The first and second waves quickly overran the weakly-held German frontline, but had more trouble clearing Bellewaerde Lake. Meanwhile the third and fourth waves pushed forward towards Jacob Trench on top of the Ridge. Before reaching the crest of the ridge the attack was in danger of being checked by heavy machine-gun fire coming from a strongpoint at Jacob Trench. Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson noticed the danger, assembled some ten men, stormed the post and gained a footing in Jacob Trench. While the rest of “B” Company was still coming up the Ridge a German company acted quickly and launched a counterattack from the left. The Germans installed a machine-gun, which started enfilading the upcoming men. Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson only assisted by his orderly Private B. Ellis dashed forward and captured the gun, which they then turned on the rest of the assailants, many of whom were killed and a large number driven into the hands of an adjoining British unit. Later, assisted only by his Serjeant and his orderly, he again attacked and captured a second German machine gun, by which time he had been joined by other portions of his company, and was enabled to consolidate his position at Jacob Trench. “B” and “C” Companies now established a line of posts between 100 and 200 yards in front of Jacob Trench. While directing the consolidation Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson was killed by a German sniper. A bullet hit him in the head and death was instantaneous. The 21-year-old was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Jacob Trench.

His remains were brought back to the hinterland and Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson was buried on Menin Road South Military Cemetery.

Files 1

Sources 5

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 26-27.
Sources used
"The Northamptonshire Regiment, 1914-1918", Aldershot, Gale & Polden, pg. 214-220.
Sources used
Further reference
The Long, Long Trail
Sources used
War Diary Northamptonshire 2nd Bn.
Further reference

More information 3