Walter was commissioned into the 4th Hussars prior to the outbreak of the First World War and was stationed in the Curragh in Ireland.

Lt WD Buddicom, MC, 4th Hussars

In August 1914, he deployed with ‘B’ Squadron of the 4th Hussars to France and moved north with them into Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He took part in the initial battles in August and took part in the retreat from Mons.

Walter Digby Buddicom was born in 1894, had two sisters Venetia and Marcia and was a member of a very wealthy family. His father Harry William Buddicom, like his father before him, was a skilled engineer and inventor.

They had designed and built locomotives and railways throughout Europe, South America and elsewhere and were leading figures in the first generation of railway engineers.

His mother, Augusta Henrietta Sophia Digby of Studland Manor in Dorset, was also from a well to do family. One of her forbears was Sir Everard Digby and a co-conspirator with Guy Fawkes.

Walter and his family lived on the Penbedw estate in Nannerch and they were indeed a society family with considerable influence owning much of the land on the Clwydian Hills and a 3,000-acre estate in Nantglyn near Denbigh (including the land that lies beneath the Brenig reservoir) as well as properties in France, Ireland and England.

The family funded the restoration of the churches in Nannerch and Cilcain and built the village school in Nannerch. Walter’s sister, Venetia Digby Buddicom, built the village hall in Nannerch as a memorial to her father and to Walter.

Walter married Vava Plunkett from Monstreven, Kildare, Ireland, in a relatively low key ceremony given the fact that at this time Walter was a serving soldier. That said the marriage was reported at court and recorded in the Times as well as local papers. They had no children.

Having volunteered for the army Walter became an officer and served with distinction on the western front. He was extremely brave and would often lead foraging parties towards enemy lines to gather intelligence on the enemy’s positions.

During the course of this action, Walter had to crawl under the barbed wire played down in front of the enemy trenches. He had to cut the wire and he used a set of wire cutters from home that he had been given by his father. The actual wire cutters and pouch are now in the possession of Mr Cliff Halsall whose father was the head gamekeeper on the Penbedw estate.

He fought with the Regiment throughout 1914-18 and took part in many actions.

Lieutenant Walter Digby Buddicom was a very brave officer having been awarded the Military Cross early in his service during WWI.

His demise came as a result of an accident while instructing his men on the use of a Lewis gun (machine gun) on a firing range in northern France on the 6th of June 1918.

The gun had been used to fire at fixed targets but suddenly jammed as a result of the heat generated within the mechanism during its use. It was left to cool down and Lieutenant Buddicom and his men walked forward of the weapon to inspect the results of their firing on the targets at the far end of the range.

Whilst in that position the mechanism in the gun, having cooled, sprung back into life and sprayed a series of rounds into the soldiers standing by the targets.

A number were injured and Lieutenant Buddicom was killed.

His death is commemorated on a plaque behind the pulpit in the parish church at Nannerch.

Grave Reference: XXVIII. N. 10.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. The Western Front 1914-18 timeline
  3. Gallantry Award: Citation and Award for The Military Cross: Lt WD Buddicom