Our People - James Finch
25 September 1915
3541 Private James Finch
1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
2nd Brigade, 1st Division
Formerly 3rd Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment
Killed in action 25 September 1915
Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Ref: Panel 89 to 91
James Finch was born at 14 Spring Street in early March 1881, the fifth child and second son of Richard Finch and Elizabeth Finch (nee Forshaw). Spring Street was in the Christchurch Parish of Preston, and James was baptised there on 20 March 1881. The area today is much changed, with the facade of Christchurch making up part of County Hall. At this time, his father Richard was a plasterer and whitewasher, with Elizabeth at home looking after the young family.
It is thought that James enlisted with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment as soon as he was able, serving with them in The South African War from 1899 to 1902. On his return James married Rosetta (Rose) Pickering on 30 May 1903 in Preston. They had five children; Edith Finch b. 19 June 1905, Richard Finch b. 21 April 1907, Stanley Finch b. 24 December 1910, Helen Finch b. 12 April 1914 and Neva Finch b. 12 June 1915. In 1911 the young family were living at 8 School Street in Farington where James was employed as a rubber worker and Rosetta was a ring Spinner in a local cotton mill. They later moved to 39 East Street in Farington.
James re-joined the army on 3 September 1914, joining the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was home until 2 December 1914 and landed in France on 3 December 1914. James performed well and was appointed Lance-Corporal on 1 February 1915. He took part in the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915. There were subsequent incidences of drunkenness and James was deprived of his rank on 17 July 1915. He would not be the only soldier to take solace in drink.
James was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos, 25 September 1915, reportedly shot through the heart. His body was found by a member of the Cyclist Corps. A blood stained photograph of his wife, his identity disc, a Princess Mary Gift Box and a games register were returned to his wife. Rose was awarded a pension of 24/6 a week for herself and the five children with effect from 17 April 1916. James was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name also appears on the Leyland St. Ambrose Cross and the St. Ambrose plaque within the church.
According to a letter which was received yesterday week (i.e. Oct. 8th) by his wife, Pte James Finch, who lived at 39 East Street, Farington, has been killed in action in France. The letter was from Pte Holding of the 1st Division of Cyclists, British Expeditionary Force, and a blood-stained photograph of deceased’s wife, which was pierced by a bullet or shrapnel, was enclosed.
The message stated that the writer was sorry to relate that he found the photograph in the pocket of a soldier of the Loyal North Lancashires, who was shot through the heart. Holding continued, that it came to his lot to bury the soldier whose property, excluding the photograph, which bore the deceased’s wife’s address on the back, had been sent to the authorities.
Private Finch, in his last letter to his wife, said he hoped he would have the luck to pull through. He was 34 years of age and leaves a widow and five children, the youngest of whom he has not seen.
Finch served throughout the Boer War without receiving a scratch. Previous to enlisting on September 3rd last year in the 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, he worked for Mr R. Marland, Contractor, of Leyland, and had also been employed in a local Rubber Works and as a dresser at the Leyland Motor Works.
For a short time after rejoining the Army he was stationed at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, and after leaving there for Felixstowe, where he stayed several weeks, he never saw his family again. He had been at the Front about 11 months. CHORLEY GUARDIAN AND LEYLAND HUNDRED ADVERTISER, Saturday 16 October 1915
On Tuesday (19th) official notification was received by Mrs Finch of 39 East Street, Farington, that her husband Pte James Finch of the 1st Loyal North Lancs. Reg. had been killed in action in France on September 25th. As was recorded in our last issue intimation of Pte Finch’s death was contained in a soldier’s letter from the front on October 8th. Pte Finch was 34 years of age and leaves 5 children. CHORLEY GUARDIAN AND LEYLAND HUNDRED ADVERTISER, Saturday 23 October 1915
James Finch in civilian clothing. Photograph courtesy of Irene Banister
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