Buddhism Fire Officer Later Buddhist Monk Ven Kapilavaddho Founder of The English Sangha Trust

Updated 28th August 2013

Honour Thy Fathers: Venerable Kapilavaddho Founder of The English Sangha Trust, Terry Shine, Carolyn Print The Shaw Trust, 2002.

Available online at:


www.buddhnet.net ebooks

The book includes the life of Venerable Kapilavaddho (William Purfurst) The Founder of The English Sangha Trust. It states:

“… the outbreak of war in 1939, … he became an official war photographer. However as a man of
action, he found life dull in the early days of the
war. Nothing seemed to happen, so he trained as a fireman. By the time his training was completed, the picture had changed. The blitz had begun. As an officer of the National Fire Service in London he soon found all the “action” he could ask for, and more.

He had some hair-raising experiences amid burning, crashing buildings, while bombs rained down and the ack-ack guns opened up, amid burst mains and sewers. Crawling among precarious ruins, digging out the living and the dead, going without sleep, food, drink, or even his precious cigarettes, and of course constantly risking his own life for the sake of others. In his case, though he distinguished himself by his fearlessness, such a life was after all not so very exceptional. He was a Londoner born and bred. Although they had not yet met, there was another man in London doing very similar things, whom one would scarcely have expected to meet in such a situation. This was a Burmese bhikkhu, the Venerable U Thittila, who had come to work in London at scholarly pursuits when war overtook him. He was equal to the occasion and, boldly doffing the robe, he joined the ambulance service and worked in blitzed London under similar conditions to William Purfurst. This experience gave Venerable U Thittila a unique insight into the British character. And it probably also did much to forge the bond of friendship, which eventually grew between the two men.”