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Remembrance Day at RGS

Lest we forget…

Today at RGS we remember and honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure and protect our freedom.

One of these individuals was an ex-pupil, Harold William Budden, who died on 14 September 1916, Aged 25.

Harold Budden WW1Name: Harold William Budden

Born: 1894

RGS: 1907-11

Died: 14 September 1916, Aged 25

Regiment: 12th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant

Harold Budden was among a number of men to travel to Macedonia to defend Serbia, and sadly did not return.

Harold was another local boy, born in Redhill and living at 61 Ladbroke Road in Redhill whilst at school. He was one of the five children of Newton and Harriet Budden, and his father was a Loss Adjuster for Commercial Assurance.

Harold had managed to gain a scholarship place to Reigate Grammar School when he applied, and was a member of the school OTC whilst he was here. After leaving school he attended Wye Agricultural College to study agriculture. He had just finished his course at Wye when the war broke out.

Harold’s enlistment papers show he enlisted in Westminster on 15 September 1914, just four weeks after the declaration. He trained for a few months with the Universities and Public Schools Corps, before gaining a commission as 2nd Lieutenant with the 12th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

The battalion went across to France with the rest of its division in September 1915, but almost immediately it was put on a train down to Marseilles to be sent to the Macedonian Front, arriving in Salonika (now Thessaloniki) in November.

The original objective for the troops being sent to Macedonia was to aid the Serbians against Bulgaria, however by the time they arrived in Salonika the Serbs had already been defeated. Instead, the army dug in around Salonika to be prepared for any other attacks by Bulgaria. Therefore, Harold probably spent most of the first half of 1916 digging trenches and setting barbed wire around the city.

In the summer of 1916, the Bulgarians attempted an invasion of Greece. This invasion was repulsed by the British forces at Lake Dorian in July, and in response the British mounted a counter-offensive attack north.

As part of this counter-offensive, Harold’s battalion – along with a battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment – stormed the village of Machukovo (now known as Evzonoi) on 13-14 September 1916. The village was a border town within Greece, bordering what was then occupied Serbia, and garrisoned by a German force. The two British battalions managed to take the village, but it was too exposed to German artillery fire so they were forced to retreat on the second day.

It was on this second day that Harold Budden was killed in action. In the March 1917 edition of The Pilgrim, another Old Boy C. M. Duncan writes that he was commanding an artillery battery supporting the raid, and saw Harold hit after the position was taken. Duncan took solace in believing they “made [the Germans] pay three times over for every man they hit.”

He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Dorian Memorial on the south-east shore of Lake Dorian.

This extract was taken from the work of John Rowlands (’73) who meticulously researched the names of the 55 individuals from the WW1 Memorial at RGS. You can read the full version here

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