Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edward Hugh Buggy (1896–1974)

by Harry Gordon

This article was published:

Hugh Buggy, n.d.

Hugh Buggy, n.d.

Edward Hugh Buggy (1896-1974), journalist, was born on 9 June 1896 at Seymour, Victoria, only child of John Buggy, carpenter and building contractor, and his wife Margaret Teresa, née Boyle, from County Cavan, Ireland. Hugh Buggy attended the convent school at Seymour; early in World War I, after his father had died and he had gone to Melbourne with his mother, he received his first journalistic experience on the South Melbourne Record. He joined the Melbourne Argus in 1917 and began a course for the diploma of journalism at the university in 1921.

Buggy was one of the most energetic and colourful journalists of his time. He was a pure reporter; he had one five-year stint as a newspaper desk-man, as deputy news editor of the Sydney Sun, and did not particularly like it. He preferred to be near the action. Major events he covered included the Melbourne police strike (1923), the fatal shoot-out between 'Squizzy' Taylor and 'Snowy' Cutmore (1927), the arrival in Brisbane of Kingsford-Smith and the Southern Cross (1928), the last election campaign of S. M. (Viscount) Bruce (1929) and the murder of the 'Pyjama Girl' (1934). Following the Greycliffe ferry disaster of 1927, he had a secret night rendezvous with the diver whose job it was to recover bodies from the Sydney Harbour bed. In 1929 at Rothbury, New South Wales, Buggy used his own singlet to apply a tourniquet to the thigh of a wounded miner. 'After that', he said, 'I could do no wrong on the coalfields'. In 1932, following the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, he was the only pressman to secure an interview with Captain Francis de Groot.

Buggy reported more than 200 murder investigations and 83 murder trials, and attended nine hangings. At the same time he managed to be a highly respected writer on sport, particularly football. He had a phenomenal memory, and even in his last years he was able to recall all Victorian league grand final scores, as well as the results (with innings totals) of all Australia-England Test cricket matches. He had a flair for the picturesque sporting phrase: he was widely believed to have coined the term 'bodyline', but this claim was never settled conclusively.

Buggy worked with the Argus until 1922, then joined the new Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial under the editorship of Montague Grover in 1923. He served on the Melbourne Evening Sun in 1923-25, the Sydney Sun in 1925-27, 1928-31 and 1937-42, the Sun News-Pictorial in 1927 and the Melbourne Herald in 1932-37. He was chief operational censor at General Douglas Macarthur's headquarters in 1942-46, and then an editor with Radio Australia. In 1950 he rejoined the Argus, and became its chief football-writer in 1951. After the Argus ceased publication in 1957, he worked for suburban newspapers in Oakleigh, Footscray and Dandenong, and contributed to the Catholic newspaper, the Advocate, as well as working as chief court reporter for Truth for three years.

Buggy married Mary Eleanor Carolan on 24 April 1929 and a widow Violet Sloane, née Rose, on 17 September 1945. Both marriages ended in divorce and were childless. 'He had only one love', a relation summed up. 'He was absolutely devoted to newspapers … nothing else'. He 'ghosted' for (Sir) Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm the Story of the Southern Cross Trans-Pacific Flight (Sydney, 1928), and in 1946 he wrote Pacific Victory. In 1977 his book The Real John Wren was published.

Buggy mastered Morse code and was an accomplished shorthand writer. He had a slight impediment in his speech which caused him to pause often and speak tersely; his conversations were described as 'a combination of verbal Morse and shorthand'. For many years, he lived with his mother and aunt in McIlwraith Street, Carlton, and after their deaths remained alone in the house. He died following a heart seizure on 18 June 1974 and was buried in Seymour cemetery after a service at St Bernard's Catholic Church, East Coburg. His 300 books of newspaper clippings were bought by a Melbourne second-hand book dealer.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Gordon, An Eyewitness History of Australia (Adel, 1976)
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 14 May 1942, 19, 22 June 1974
  • Argus (Melbourne), 26 Mar 1951
  • Herald (Melbourne), 18 June 1974
  • Age (Melbourne), 19 June 1974, 27 Feb 1976
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 19, 20 June 1974
  • Truth, 22 June 1974
  • Sydney Sun, 29 June 1974.

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Citation details

Harry Gordon, 'Buggy, Edward Hugh (1896–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Hugh Buggy, n.d.

Hugh Buggy, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


9 June, 1896
Seymour, Victoria, Australia


18 June, 1974 (aged 78)
Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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