Captain Buss, Benjamin, 1st/5th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)

Buss, Benjamin. DoD: 04/11/1918. Age: 32. Son of Mr and Mrs Edwin Buss of Victoria, B.C. Canada and nephew of Mr B. Buss of Elphicks Farm, Horsmonden, Kent. Occ: Farmer. Unit: 5th Btn. The Buffs (East Kent Regt.) Cemetery: St. Margaret’s, Horsmonden, Kent.

Benjamin Buss (the elder) and family were farmers from Hurst Green in Sussex, they arrived at Horsmonden mid 1840 when they leased both Elphicks and nearby Spelmonden farms.

Ben and his wife Mary (Cheeseman) Buss had three children, Thomas, Ben and Edwin. Edwin and his wife Anne Weston had Ben Jnr. In 1886 and a further 7 children who were all born at Elphicks Farm.

Ben’s parents, Edwin and Ann (Weston) Buss emigrated to Canada in 1907 but Ben decided to stay on at the farm with his uncle, Ben Snr.

Ben’s brother, Thomas also died in the Great War and is also commemorated on the Horsmonden War Memorial

Ben attended Day School at the Horsmonden Heath School where Arthur Morley, a well-known figure in Horsmonden, was Headmaster. Ben also attended Tonbridge School for Boys and he excelled in all subjects at both schools, especially in sport.

Ben joined the army as a professional soldier in 1909 entering D Company. 5th Battalion (Weald of Kent) The Buffs Territorials where he was gazetted to 2nd Lieut. His tireless recruiting efforts during 1910 around surrounding villages kept D Company at full strength.

Ben was engaged to be married to Phyllis Baker in July 1914 but at the outbreak of war he decided to volunteer for military service. He was promoted to Captain a few months later.

When he left the village for India in 1915, the area around the railway station was packed with friends, neighbours and colleagues to bid him farewell – such was the respect for this man.

Captain Buss entered the war at ‘Basrah’ 9th December 1915 and 9th January 1916 whilst in action at Sheik Sa’ad, Captain Buss was wounded in his left temple and was immediately taken to Colaba Hospital in Bombay where he underwent an operation to remove shrapnel embedded in his brain which necessitated the removal of his left eye. Benjamin recovered sufficiently to re-join his unit.

His condition gradually worsened and, in the autumn of 1918, he was brought to England to the 3rd Military Hospital in Wandsworth, London to undergo a very risky operation to remove some remaining pieces of shrapnel from his brain. Sadly, he didn’t survive the operation and he died 4th November 1918. His body was returned to his uncle at Elphicks Farm, Horsmonden.

He was buried at St Margaret’s Church with full military honours, the burial service being carried out by Ben’s cousin the Rev. Cheeseman assisted by the Rev. H C Smith-Marriot

There was a firing party of around 50 soldiers who fired three volleys over the grave – ‘Last Post’ was sounded.

Hundreds of Horsmonden villagers turned out to pay their respects to this popular man.

Captain Buss’s medals, Memorial Plaque and Scroll were sent to Benjamin’s mother, Ann, in Saanich B.C. Canada.

It is believed there will be nephews and nieces living in Vancouver B.C. today in the names of; Buss, Wood, Paterson. Spurgin, Milligan, and Leake-Gale. Research continues in the hope that we can make contact with them to inform the descendants of Benjamin about our findings and to see if we can learn more about Captain Benjamin Buss of Horsmonden.

The Tonbridge Boys School held a special centenary Remembrance Service 11th November 2018 for the last 10 soldiers who died in the Great War and Captain Buss’s name was read out by five boys from the school. In addition, there was a silhouette of Captain Buss, along with the other nine soldiers on display in the Chapel cloisters as part of a National ‘There but not There’ installation which honoured the Fallen of the Great War.

Captain Buss, Benjamin, 1st/5th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)