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Soldiers’ links sought

Ladysmith’s Empty Chair ceremony has become a time-honoured tradition on Remembrance Day.

Now organizers are  trying to track down the life stories of two local soldiers lost during the war to honour this year.

David Walbank, a local Rotarian hunting information on the soldiers, said they are looking for anyone in town who may have information on Frank Burrill and Duncan Comrie Ferguson.

Walbank said Burrill was born on June 24, 1922 and died on September 10, 1942.

Burrill was shot down over the North Sea.

“He was a flight sergeant navigator with the Royal Canadian Air Force, but he flew the Lancaster Bombers with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.”

Walbank said he knows Burrill had a brother, Jack, who lived in Ladysmith.

“He was also in the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Walbank. “And he survived the war.”

“There’s some surviving relatives in the town somewhere.”

There is no photo of Frank.

Ferguson was killed on November 9, 1942.

“Again he was in the Lancaster Bombers and he was shot down over the North Sea.”

His body was never recovered.

Walbank said they know his parents were Daniel and Muriel Ferguson.

“They were Ladysmith families.”

Walbank said he has talked to the Ladysmith Historical Society who said someone from Alberta has also been doing research on Ferguson.

Walbank has sent for their service records and hopes anyone with information on either of these two soldiers can contact him at 250-245-1431 or e-mail

“Right now this is as far as I can go.”

A soldier is honoured ever year at the Empty Chair ceremony.

“For the veterans, apart from the service at the cenotaph, it’s the biggest event of the year in Ladysmith.”

A chair is left for the honoured soldier at the function.

The ceremony, said Walbank, is essential to remember the people who fought and died during the war.

Walbank, who is from England, speaks highly of Canada’s Remembrance Day ceremonies and is pleased to see schools taking part.

“It’s very emotional for everyone there.”

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