Patrick (Paddy) Budgen is Alstonville's most famous son, renowned for his heroism on the Western Front in World War 1.
Patrick was born in Tatham, an old riverport on the Richmond River near Casino, on the 17/3/1897. His family moved to Alstonville and took over the license of the Federal Hotel (see yesterdays post). At 19, he enlisted in the the 31st Battalion in Brisbane. He arrived in Plymouth in late 1916 and his service record shows the ubiquitous medical issues of influenza.
In September 1917, the 31st Battlion was involved in the notorious and shocking Battle of Passchendaele in the Ypres sector, Belgium. On the 9th of May he wrote a letter to his beloved mother Annie, " We are going into the firing line tomorrow. If by chance anything happens I feel that I shall gain a place of happiness, for I have never done a deed I feel ashamed of SO I FEAR NOTHING.
|A classic shot of the conditions in the Battle of Passchendaele|
|The remnants of Polygon Wood|
Between the 26th and 28th of September at Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium, the Allied forces fighting in this sector were held by two heavily defended German concrete pillboxes. Budgen twice led parties in the assault on the pillboxes under heavy machine gun fire. Both attacks were successful with Budgen capturing the Germans with the point of his bayonet. On five occasions Budgen rescued wounded men under terrible machine gun and shell fire. On the last of these courageous missions he was killed. He was awarded a Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the Australian/British Armies.
Budgen's grave is located in the Hooge Crater Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. His memorial in Alstonville was built by the Rotary Club and unveiled by the Governor of Queensland on 28th of September 1997, the 80th anniversary of Budgen's death. ANZAC day marches in Alstonville begin at the memorial. One of Alstonville's main throughfares has been renamed in his honour.