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William Baldwin BUSBY (1891-1917)

Biographical Details

Second Lieutenant William Baldwin Busby (1891-1917) was in the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and served with Cyril Sladden in Mesopotamia. He also knew the New Zealand Sladden family.

William Busby was born on 18th May 1891 at Marlborough, New Zealand, the younger son of John Dow Busby and his wife, Isabella Selina (née Baldwin). He also had five half-siblings as his mother had been married before to the late George Home Binning Munro.

William was a pupil at the Napier Boys' High School, then enrolled at Victoria University College in 1910 to study architecture. He was a keen member of the Officers’ Training Corps and of the Men's Common Room Club.

On the outbreak of war, William enlisted in Wellington, New Zealand as a Corporal in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. His address at the time of enlistment was Hadfield Hostel, Kelburne, Wellington. In August, 1914, he sailed with the Samoan Force. Returning early in 1915, he sailed at once for England. He received a commission and on 14th August 1915 was gazetted as lieutenant to the Worcestershire Regiment, 12th Battalion.  He went with them to Egypt in January 1916.  From the summer of 1916, he was attached to the 9th Battalion, which was where he first met Cyril Sladden, as a letter of Cyril's written on 29th October 1916 reveals.

Second Lieutenant Busby was killed on 15th February 1917 whilst serving in Mesopotamia. Cyril Sladden wrote in a letter to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable: “Never have I known such a stroke of bad luck as we had yesterday in officers’ casualties. Three have been killed ….. Busby (the fellow the New Zealand Sladdens knew well) was killed by a bullet in the face. Our Doctor Captain Martin hearing he was hit, went out contrary to orders and got a bullet through his head across the forehead, from which he died at the field ambulance some time this morning. He was a splendid regimental doctor, and all the men are very distressed at losing him, and the officers certainly not less so ….. Three hits, like that, all fatal, seem the high water mark of sheer ill luck.”

Second Lieutenant Busby was buried in Amara War Cemetery. His widowed mother was living in England at 209 Banbury Road, Oxford. William Busby’s medals were sent to her, care of her son, Alexander William Monro (William’s half-brother), who was based at the Board of Agriculture in Whitehall.

Letters mentioning this person: