Our veteran-led volunteer disaster relief teams deployed to Casino/Rappsville, Northern NSW to assist local communities in the wake of devastating bushfires in September and October this year. On Thursday 17th October 2019, we dispatched a 3 person reconnaissance team to Casino and the surrounding area. Casino and Rappsville were identified as areas with significant needs.
Damage reports have been estimated as: 64 homes destroyed, 23 damaged, 7 facilities destroyed, 9 damaged, 153 outbuildings destroyed, 70 damaged. We conducted a Bushfire Recovery Operation which included: debris removal, tree felling, chainsaw operations, UAV damage assessments, sifting ops and ‘as required’ clean up efforts, and spontaneous volunteer management to affected communities in coordination with local and state authorities. The first boots on the ground were on Saturday 26th October.
The story behind the name
As part of its respect to military veterans, DRA names its relief operations after a local veteran in honour of their service to the community, and in turn ours.
Operation Budgen was named after Private Patrick Joseph Bugden who hailed from the Area of Operation. Twenty-year-old Pat Bugden (1897-1917), a hotelkeeper from the north coast of New South Wales before enlistment, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his outstanding bravery over three days during one of the Australians’ successful step-by-step advances in late September 1917. On two occasions, when held up by intense fire from machine-guns, he led small parties to silence the enemy posts. Five times he rescued wounded men trapped by intense shelling and machine-gun fire. Once, seeing that an Australian corporal had been taken prisoner, he single-handedly rushed to his comrade’s aid, shooting and bayoneting the enemy. He kept fighting until he was killed.