Bedford war hero Private Buckingham VC remembered

[R-L] Stuart Antrobus, Derek Seaton and distant relatives of William, plus a Royal British Legion contingent from Clapham (Photo by Frances Wortley)
[R-L] Stuart Antrobus, Derek Seaton and distant relatives of William, plus a Royal British Legion contingent from Clapham (Photo by Frances Wortley)

Bedford-born, First World War military hero, Private William Buckingham VC was remembered last Thursday with the unveiling of a commemorative blue plaque in St John’s Street, Bedford, commissioned by local historian Stuart Antrobus.

Born in 1886, Private Buckingham joined the Army as a boy soldier at 15 with the Leicestershire Regiment and served in countries as far apart as Egypt and India.

But it was during the First World War, fighting in the trenches of northern France, when his valiant actions brought him to the attention of his commanders.

Over three days, 10-12 March 1915, under heavy enemy fire, and with no concern for his own life, he rescued seven of his wounded fellow soldiers from ‘no-man’s-land’ and also a severely-wounded German soldier whose life he saved.

It was for this action, which displayed both courage and compassion, that he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was wounded and returned to England to recover but insisted on returning to the front line.

On 15 September 1916 Private Buckingham was killed, doing the very same thing, attempting to save fellow wounded soldiers.

Exactly 100 years later, Derek Seaton, historian and William Buckingham’s biographer, unveiled the plaque on the showroom wall of Magnet Kitchens, the site of William’s birthplace in Bedford.

The Clapham branch of the Royal British Legion provided an act of homage, with the playing of the last post by Salvation Army bugler, Bob Barron.