A RETIRED army major from Harnham will celebrate his 100th birthday next week.

Major Francis Jesser Budd, pictured, was born in Sussex on July 19, 1914, and went to Grammar School Hastings.

He became a registered architect in Slough and married just before the Second World War began.

“When I was in church one day the word went round that the Second World War had broken out,” he said.

In 1940 he volunteered for army service and joined the Corps of Royal Engineers.

He was first employed in one of the newly-formed bomb disposal sections dealing with the large number of unexploded Luftwaffe bombs during the London Blitz.

At that time not many people knew how the bombs were constructed and fused, so dealing with them was mostly trial and error until more technical information was obtained.

As a newly-commissioned officer, he then served with the Sappers building roads on the Faroe Islands.

To prevent the explosive boxes from freezing, Maj Budd remembers sleeping on them overnight.

He also served in Belgium and Holland.

Maj Budd was in the first British contingent to arrive in Berlin after the German surrender in 1945.

Afterwards, he served in Gibraltar, Cyprus, Ghana, West Africa and Singapore before retiring from the army in 1964. As a qualified architect he then worked with the property services agency of the Civil Service based in Hounslow until he retired. Maj Budd lived in Reading and moved to Harnham Croft in Salisbury ten years ago.

He has five children, 16 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter.

Maj Budd, whose earliest memory is falling over on his way to school at the age of four, says the secret to his longevity is leading a healthy life.

He will be celebrating his centenary with a family party next Saturday.