Bryan Budd VC of 3PARA was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2006 for actions in Afghanistan. He was the first recipient of the Victoria Cross for British forces serving in Afghanistan. There have been three, two of them posthumous.
A Belfast boy born in 1977 Bryan Budd joined the British Army in 1996 serving operationally in Kosovo, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a member of the elite Pathfinder Platoon which carries out reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines. In JUN2006 Cpl Budd joined A Company, 3 PARA in the southern Afghanistan town of Sangin in Helmand Province.
The award was conferred for two cited incidents. In the first incident, on 27 July, Corporal Budd’s section was on a patrol when they identified and engaged two enemy gunmen on the roof of a building in the centre of Sangin. Without regard for his own safety, Corporal Budd led an assault where the enemy fire was heaviest. His gallant action allowed a wounded soldier to be evacuated to safety where he subsequently received life-saving treatment.
There was a second incident was from the 20 August 2006, when A Company, 3 PARA was located in the southern Afghanistan town of Sangin. Cpl Budd and his platoon were ordered to hold a small, isolated coalition outpost – dubbed a platoon house – to protect engineers blowing holes in a compound 500 metres away. The site was subject to almost daily Taliban onslaught for months. At the time in Sangin, British forces often embarked with a 70% chance of a fight. The platoon commander, Capt Hugo Farmer described patrols as “more like an advance to contact.” On the day, there were three sections on patrol, a total of 24 men, spread out in a head-high cornfield around the compound. Budd spotted four Taliban approaching, at a distance of 50 metres. With hand signals, Budd led his section in a flanking manoeuvre round to the cornfield’s outskirts to try to cut them off placing his men in an extended line to advance towards the enemy. But they were spotted and the Taliban opened fire on the troops. The British soldiers took heavy fire, kneeling or lying down trying to take cover. One soldier received a bullet in the shoulder, and another was shot in the nose.
Realising his section were taking heavy fire and were likely to be killed, Budd got up and rushed straight through the corn in the direction of the Taliban, now just 20 metres away. Budd opened up on them in fully automatic mode with his rifle, and contact was immediately lost, but the Taliban fire lessened and allowed the rest of his section to withdraw back to safety so the casualties could be treated.
After withdrawal, Budd was declared missing in action Capt Farmer, who had been hit by shrapnel, then reformed his platoon and led an attack on the Taliban positions with air support. An hour later, Budd was found beside three dead Taliban. Budd was badly wounded having suffered major internal haemorrhaging and had no pulse. The CSM recovered his body on a quad bike, but he was declared dead on arrival at the platoon house. Budd’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, described Budd at the time of his death as “an outstanding leader” who had a professional manner “that inspired confidence in all that worked with him“. Tootal said: “Bryan died doing the job he loved, leading his men from the front, where he always was. He was proud to call himself a paratrooper and we were proud to stand beside him.”
On the 14DEC2006 he was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross and his widow Lorena Budd a clerk in 5 Regiment, Royal Artillery collected it at Buckingham Palace 07MAR2007.
29NOV2007 it was found by a military inquest that the fatal bullet on that day was a 5.56 NATO round which impacted on his back. Having acted quickly and selflessly Cpl Budd had charged forward into crossfire between the enemy and his men unfortunately being hit by one of their bullets. The covering fire which unfortunately proved fatal for him insured at the same time that his gallant actions were not in vain. Such things happen in war. It is nothing short of a tragedy. None the less Budd and the men he served with had done their jobs and performed bravely in a desperate situation. His actions were in keeping with the kind of selfless determined and brave deeds done by all VC recipients.
Bryan Budd was husband to his beautiful wife Lorena, father of their daughter Isabelle born in 2004. Lorena was 8 months pregnant with their second daughter Imogen. Lorena took great pride in him winning the VC but added when it had been revealed he had been put forward for the award “ He was a brilliant father and a brilliant husband. So regardless of what he is or isn’t awarded he will always be a hero to us.”
On the day that Bryan Budd stood up and charged the enemy turning the tide of the engagement he was due to return home to them in five days time. He never hesitated. His men lived. Such is the courage and acts of Victoria Cross winners.