b. 24/11/1893 Truro, Cornwall. d. 30/03/1917 Mesopotamia.
James Henry Finn (1893-1917) was born in St Clement near Truro, Cornwall, to Frederick John Finn (b.1873) and Mary Baxter Finn (née Uglow) on 24th November 1893. The family later moved to Downing St., Bodmin. Finn was from a big family, with five brothers (Frederick, David, Sussex, Albert E.R.(of Kilhallon, Par, Cornwall) and Herbert (known as John)) and five sisters (Florence King, Elizabeth Finn, Annie Hoskin, Bertha Wigget (of Watchet, Somerset) and Beatrice Capper (formerly Port, of Portishead, Somerset)). One sister, Elizabeth Mary Finn, died in 1953 and was buried at Bodmin with her father at Bodmin Old Cemetery. Interestingly, the headstone also mentions James, killed in action in 1917.
Finn went to the South Wales Valleys looking for work. He eventually found employment at the colliery at Cwmtillery near Abertillery. At the Colliery he made friends with Willie Townsend and eventually went to live with the family in Frederick Street which has since been demolished.
On the outbreak of World War One, James enlisted with the 4th Battalion, C Company, South Wales Borderers and his surname was erroneously listed as Fynn. After initial service in France, his Battalion was posted to the conflict against the Turks in Mesopotamia.
On 9th April 1916 at Sanna-i-Yat, Mesopotamia, following a night attack he was one of a small party which dug-in in front of our advanced line and about 300 yards from the enemy's trenches. Seeing several wounded men lying out in front he went out and bandaged them all under heavy fire, making several journeys in order to do so. He then went back to our advanced trench for a stretcher and, being unable to get one, he himself carried on his back a badly wounded man into safety. He then returned and, aided by another man who was wounded during the act, carried in another badly wounded man. He was under continuous fire while performing this gallant work.
Finn was badly wounded during the action and died of his wounds later that day in the field ambulancee. Sadly, he has no known grave as he was buried near the field ambulance and the grave was lost. He is named on the Basra War Memorial. He was posthumously gazetted on 26th September 1916, and the medal was presented to his father by King George V in Hyde Park, London on 2nd June 1917. His medals are now held by Bodmin Borough Council and replicas are displayed in the Town Hall, Bodmin.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BODMIN TOWN COUNCIL, BODMIN, CORNWALL.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE - ON BASRA MEMORIAL, IRAQ. PANEL 16 AND 62
The memorial to James Fynn VC at the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon. His medals are in Bodmin, Cornwall.
His replica medals on display in Bodmin Museum
(Picture courtesy of Ken Jones)
Bodmin War Memorial
Abertillery War Memorial
War Illustrated, 3rd February 1917
War Illustrated, 14th October 1916
War Illustrated, 6th January 1917
Basra Memorial (courtesy of TWGPP)