By 1927 we know that The Doc was spending time a long way from home in Umtata (some 700 miles away in the Eastern Cape). By this time he was Medical Superintendent of Robben Island.
This year was to be filled with sadness for the Budds. In May of that year Herbert’s aunt Emily died in Stevenage, aged 86. Her bequest of £2,000 to her nephew Herbert perhaps underlines the relationship between them. On 14th September, 3 days after Billy’s seventh birthday, The Doc died suddenly following a brief case of pneumonia. Tragically for Lil this happened while the Doc was away in Umtata where he was visiting the Emjanyana Leper colony. Due to the heat and poor communications it was not possible for the Doc’s body to be brought back to Robben Island and so he was buried in Umtata Cemetery. Neither Lil nor Billy could attend the funeral. The grave can still be found - the unmarked grave was located in 2012 and a stone raised in 2015. Oral history relates that Lil was devastated by his death and vowed never to attend a funeral again and indeed she did not attend her parent’s or her sister Kate’s funerals years later.
For some reason Lil waited until May of 1928 to return to England. Boarding the Passenger Ship City of Poona at Cape Town, and taking a first class cabin, she and her 7 year old son returned to England – to Priestly Road, Kinson. Returning to England after what must have been a comfortable and colonial lifestyle in South Africa cannot have been easy. Perhaps for this reason Lil decided to return to South Africa with Billy (by then 8 years old) and took a first class cabin on board the ‘City of Nagpur’, leaving from London on 19th January 1929. The ship’s papers show their intended permanent residence as Cape Town. Oral history relates that Lil and Billy took a bungalow somewhere in Cape Town, intending to live there permanently.
Unfortunately their plans were disrupted when Billy contracted Colitis sometime in late 1929. Billy was brought home to England by his mother in December 1929 where, despite their earlier plans, they remained. Their days in South Africa were over. Living at 9 Priestly Road with Lil’s parents, Billy grew up in Kinson. Attending a fee-paying grammar school in Parkstone, he would have received a good education. Upon leaving school he became a car mechanic. His interests were not only mechanical but also lay in flying. Lil paid for him to join the Bournemouth Flying Club, where he obtained his Aviator’s certificate on 20th March, 1939. No doubt observing events in Europe, Billy was keen to fly and join the RAF. Within 3 weeks of the start of the Second World War, WH Budd had joined up.
Lil and Billy, Clifton, 1928
Billy in his back garden, 9 Priestly Road, Kinson
Billy on board the City of Poona
Lil (back row 4th from left) on passage back to South Africa