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James Edward Finch was born at 18 Anderton Street in Chorley in 1885 and was baptised at St. George`s Church in the town on the 11th October 1885 the son of Richard and Martha Finch (nee Hodgkinson). James` parents married in the same church on the 26th November 1877 and they went on to have nine children, eight of whom survived;

⦁ Annie (1877)
⦁ John (1878)
⦁ Margaret (1880)
⦁ Elizabeth Alice (1882)
⦁ James Edward (1885)*
⦁ Eliza (1889)
⦁ Richard (1891-1893)
⦁ Florrie (1894)
⦁ Emily (1897)

In 1901 the Finch family home was at 8 Gillibrand Street in Chorley where Richard Finch was employed as a mill labourer. By 1911 James and his family were still living in the same street although the house number had now changed to number twelve. James` father was working as a labourer while James had now got a job as a house painter and his sisters were all employed in mill work.

James married Sarah Catterall at the Ebenezer Chapel in Chorley in the June quarter of 1912, the couple do not appear to have had any children.

At some point James enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 25729. In the absence of any service papers it is difficult to be precise on the exact date of his enlistment, however, another soldier with the service number 25728 enlisted in June 1916 so it`s likely James` joined at the same time. As the Medal Index Cards only give a date of embarkation prior to January 1916, again, we cannot be sure when James sailed to France. On arrival he would have spent a short period of time at the Base Depot before he was posted to the 9th Battalion. The 9th Battalion had been in France since the 26th September 1915 coming under the Command of 74th Brigade in 25th Division.

On the 31st October 1915 the 25th Division took over the Ploegsteert sector, a frontage of some 6,000 yards which extended from the River Lys on the right to Hill 63 on the left, the Division would remain in this area until the middle of February 1917.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary;
21st December 1916 – The Battalion held XMAS DINNER prior to going into the line.
22nd December 1916 – The Battalion moved to the PLOEGSTEERT WOOD taking over front line from the 13th Cheshire’s.
25th December 1916 – Draft of 18 other ranks joined from 25th I.B.D.

25th December was the last entry made in the War Diary for the year 1916 and the entry concludes with;

Other ranks – 5 killed, 10 wounded, 1 died from acute nephritis, 1 died from Broncho pneumonia

Sadly, James Finch was one of the 5 men killed, his date of death given as 25th December 1916. His family published the following notices in the local newspaper;

After the war his widow Sarah would have received his British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

James was buried with honour in Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery, he lies alongside another 9th Battalion man, Charles Stanley Dowding, a Manchester lad who was also killed on the 25th December 1916.

Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery. Photo October 2016

He was is also remembered in the Chorley Memorial Book, compiled after the War by Susannah Knight and now held at Astley Hall. Thank you to Adam Cree for the photos and newspaper articles about James Finch, also for the copy of his entry in the CMB (below).


Rank: Private
Service No: 25729
Date of Death: 25/12/1916
Age: 31
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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