History: Looking Back

Looking Back: A story of war, love and two mining towns


Lovers: James Budden and Hannah Harling

AN HONOUR roll in Corrimal Uniting Church – not unlike memorials in community halls all around Australia – has revealed a tragic love story that spanned the globe.

The tablet lists 21 local men from the church who served in the Great War, with one name, however, remaining a mystery to local historians and the parish for decades.

James Budden’s tale is one of hope and sadness – it tells of a young man planning to bring his sweetheart from the English village of West Cornforth to the booming New South Wales coal mining town of Corrimal to begin a new life.

Russell Vale war historian Terry Bugg said past research on James Budden had proved fruitless. All that was known of the man was he died aged 28 on the Somme, France in 1917 after enlisting in Corrimal in 1916.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world in the village of West Cornforth historians were pondering the same questions about the indentical man.

The village’s war memorial lists the same James Budden.

“My daughter asked me about the names on the [West Cornforth] memorial, such as why were there two surnames the same,” West Cornforth war historian Andy Denholme said.

Unable to give his daughter the correct answer he began researching the names on the memorial. He discovered the Looking Back website, which ultimately closed the final chapter on the touching tale of James Budden.

Read the full story at the Looking Back website.

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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