James Glenn Ferguson was a native of Central Falls, Rhode Island and a 1937 graduate of Central Falls High School. He was an excellent scholar and athlete. Glenn entered the Rhode Island State College with the Class of 1941 and enrolled in the Army ROTC program. He was a member of the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity. In 1941, James G. Ferguson graduated from Rhode Island State College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces on 10 September 1941 in Providence, Rhode Island. He was selected for flight training; and he took primary training at Randolph Field, Texas and basic air training at Cunasson Field, Oklahoma. He received his wings at Hondo, Texas and later took specialized training at Mountain Home, Idaho and Windover Field, Utah.
Lieutenant Ferguson was assigned as a Navigator in the 791st Bomber Squadron, 467th Heavy Bomber Group in England. On 22 April 1944, Lieutenant Ferguson and his crew took off from Rackheath Air Field, Suffolk, England. Their mission was to strike the German Marshalling yards in Hamm, Germany. Their attack was very successful. Returning to England in the dark of night and upon their return to Barsham Field, their aircraft was attacked by several German ME-410 Intruder aircraft that entered the landing pattern of returning US bombers.
The situation quickly turned chaotic with American and German aircraft intertwined in the dead of night. At 1,000 feet, his B-24 aircraft was struck by cannon fire from one, possibly two, German fighter aircraft who closed to within 60 yards. The number three and four engines were set ablaze causing oxygen bottles in the fuselage to explode. As the ship fell swiftly into a spin, only three gunners were able to bail out safely. Seven crewmembers to include Lieutenant Ferguson were killed in the crash on the fields in Barsham, England. Lieutenant Ferguson was declared “Killed in Action” on 22 April 1944.
Slater Park in Pawtucket, Rhode Island erected a small monument that is dedicated to men of Scottish descent who died in World Wars I & II. LT James Ferguson is listed on this monument. Additionally, LT Ferguson is listed on a plaque which hangs in the University of Rhode Island Memorial Union honoring fallen graduates during World War II.
For his actions, Lieutenant Ferguson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. His conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army Air Forces and reflected great credit upon him, his family and the University of Rhode Island.
Lieutenant James G. Ferguson was buried with full military honors in Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England. He was survived by his wife Helen. He is a heroic member of the “Greatest Generation.”