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This information has been published with permission from family members.

Finch - JAMESJames Finch was born in 1881 in Preston to Richard and Elizabeth Finch (nee Forshaw). Richard and Elizabeth married in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston on the 20th February 1876 when they were both nineteen years of age. By the time James came along he already had two sisters; Mary Ann (1876) and Elizabeth Ann (1878).

Prior to his marriage Richard Finch had been working in a mill and his marriage details confirm that he was a labourer but when the 1881 Census was taken he was working as a self-employed plasterer and whitewasher. The Finch family home at the time was 31 Spring Street in Preston.

Sadly, at some point after the 1881 Census was taken Richard and Elizabeth`s marriage appears to have broken down and on the night of the 25th December 1883 Richard was charged with assaulting his wife which resulted in a court appearance. The Preston Chronicle reported on the case.

Preston Chronicle – 6TH January 1883

A BRUTAL HUSBAND – Richard Finch, a painter, was charged with assaulting his wife Elizabeth, on Monday night, the 25th ult. – The parties are separated, and on Christmas night the prisoner went to his wife`s house, where she was in bed, asleep, and wakened her by blackening both eyes. He had, she said, assaulted her the same way four times before during the last seven weeks, – Prisoner was committed to prison for one month”.

Whatever happened between James` parents after his father`s release from prison is unknown but it certainly seems that there was no improvement in their relationship. In May 1885 the Preston Chronicle reported on yet another alleged assault committed by Richard on his wife which resulted in a second court appearance.

Preston Chronicle – 9th May 1885

“MAN AND WIFE AT LOGGERHEADS – Elizabeth Finch summoned her husband Richard Finch for having assaulted her in Crown Street on Sunday morning. Mr. Blackhurst defended – From the evidence of the Prosecutrix – it seemed that on Sunday morning she sent one of her children to ask for some money for her and the children. Defendant refused. Prosecutrix afterwards went herself, when the defendant struck her in the chest and kicked her. Fined 5s and costs.”

It would appear that at the time of the second assault Elizabeth was also expecting a fourth child, a son Daniel was born in the September quarter of 1885 and was baptised in St. John`s Church in Preston on the 22nd October 1885. Later information suggests that James` parents were still living together until June 1886.

There was yet another court appearance for James` father in November of 1890 but this time he was the injured party, claiming that his brother William and William`s wife Ellen had assaulted him. The matter was again reported in the Preston Chronicle.

Preston Chronicle – 1st November 1890

A PETTY FAMILY QUARREL – At the Borough Police Court this morning, before Messrs. E Greenwood and J Brown, William Finch and Ellen Finch, husband and wife, were charged by Richard Finch, brother of the male defendant, with assaulting him last Saturday night – Mr. Blackhurst prosecuted – It seems that for some long time back there had been some family dispute, and the complainant alleged that the family had been scandalising him, therefore he went to the house on Saturday night to inquire about this. Angry words followed, and Mrs Finch slapped his face. She then called her husband, who also hit him twice in the face. The male defendant was fined 5s and costs, and the female 2s 6d and costs.”

By 1891 ten year old James and his sister Elizabeth Ann were both living with their maternal grandparents Thomas and Margery Forshaw at number 7 River Street in Preston while their mother was lodging with a Henry Webster at 10 Robinson Street. Elizabeth had six year old Daniel with her and she also had another son William Henry who was just a few months old.

Yet another newspaper report concerning the Finch family appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post in May 1899 in which more details about Richard and Elizabeth`s marriage came to light.

Lancashire Evening Post – 13th May 1899

A QUESTION OF RESPONSIBILITY – Mr P H Eddleston, on behalf of the Police, asked the Preston Magistrates, today, that an order should be made upon Richard Finch, painter and hawker of 52 Duke Street, to contribute to the maintenance of his son Daniel, now in an industrial school. The defendant, for whom Mr Blackhurst appeared, denied the paternity of the boy – Mr Eddleston said that the husband and wife had lived together until June 1886, or 11 months after the lad was born. They then parted, and each had since co-habited with some other person. In cross-examination by Mr Blackhurst Mrs Finch said that she never got a separation order from the Court. For the lad`s non-attendance at school she had paid fines amounting to £2 5s and had been to prison eight times for education offences – A witness was called with whom Mrs Finch had lodged 13 years ago, who stated that when Daniel was 11 months old, the defendant would often come and nurse it – The Bench ordered Finch to pay 2s per week”

On the 11th September 1899 just four months after the latest court revelations James enlisted into the Militia at Preston joining the 3rd Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment with the number 9778. His medical inspection revealed that he was five feet two and three quarter inches tall, had grey eyes and brown hair. His occupation was a spinner in Mr. Paley`s cotton mill on London Road and his home address was 28 Spring Street in Preston. James was called up for full time service (embodied) on the 14th August 1900 and he subsequently served with the 3rd Battalion of the East Lancs Regiment in the 2nd Boer War. He served 1 year and 224 days overseas and then returned home where he continued to attend the annual camps until becoming time expired on the 10th September 1905.

James married Rosetta Pickering in Christ Church, Preston on the 30th May 1903 and by 1911 the couple had three children; Edith (1905), Richard (1907) and Stanley (1910). In the Census of 1911 James, Rosetta and their three children were living in School Street in Farington near Leyland and James was working at the nearby Leyland and Birmingham Rubber works as an India rubber moulder. In April 1914 the couple had another daughter and they named her Helen.

On the 3rd September 1914 James enlisted as a Special Reservist and the following day he was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was allocated the number 3541. An entry on his misconduct sheet appeared for the 14th November 1914 when he was found drunk in his billet at about 8.15pm and for this he was awarded 14 days confined to barracks.

James sailed for France on the 3rd December 1914 with a batch of reinforcements for the 1st Battalion LNL and by the 1st February 1915 he had been appointed Lance Corporal (paid), his previous military experience probably being a factor in his rapid promotion. In May 1915 another misconduct entry appeared for being late on parade for which he was severely reprimanded.

In June 1915 while James was in France Rosetta gave birth to another daughter and named her Neva. A month later James was in trouble again for being drunk in his billet so perhaps he was celebrating the news of his daughter`s birth but whatever the reason his superiors took a dim view and he had his Lance stripe removed. On the 24th August 1915 he was fined 10s and received 21 days Field Punishment No.1 for being intoxicated again and for being missing from parade for three and a half hours.

Finch - JAMES 2

Rosetta Finch pictured above with the couples` five children.

James` field punishment would only just have been completed before the 1st Battalion was to take part in the Battle of Loos and sadly this is when James` war ended when he was killed in action on the opening day of the battle on the 25th September 1915.

The Battalion war diary reads;

Battle of Loos – 25th September 1915

Morning of the attack. Lines are to be out by 04:30hrs. Original hours for gas to commence at 04:50hrs changed to 05:50hrs. Orders to leave trenches 06:29hrs changed to 06:43hrs. Gas no sooner commenced when wind changed and blew it back on us and the front line suffered badly.

Battalion advanced at 06:35hrs but owing to gas got mixed up and all four lines advanced together, also we got mixed up with Kings Royal Rifle Corps on our right. We advanced up to the German wire, but found it uncut and returned back to the trenches.

Colonel Sanderson led out as many men as possible again, but it was of no use, and he and the Adjutant, Captain Diver were wounded and also 2nd Lieutenant P Goldie, who was with them, was killed. Officer casualties 9 killed, 5 wounded, 2 missing. Captain Falkner and 2nd Lieutenant Livesey, Wharton and Healy all found killed right on the German wire. 2nd Lieutenant Wasbrough, machine- gun officer took his two guns practically up to the German wire, he was killed. 2nd Lieutenant Gardner the second machine-gun officer went out on the left flank with his two guns. Nearly all his team was gassed and he carried a gun out himself with two men. He was gassed but came back to get ammunition and was told by the Doctor to go down, but went and got more ammunition. After a small number of the Brigade had attempted to advance again, they stayed in the trenches.

Germans to our front surrendered to the 9th Kings when they had got half way to the trenches in the afternoon.

2nd Lieutenant N Collins, the senior officer left, assembled the Battalion which numbered 3 Officers and 159 other ranks, and moved off South with the Brigade to `Chalk Pit`. 2nd Lieutenant Gardner came up later with a machine-gun although was still feeling bad.

Took up position for the night along Lens – La Bassee Road, right on Puits 14, left on Chalk Pit. Pouring with rain. Captain N C Phillips joined up later and took command. He had been gassed in the morning and was still feeling fairly bad. Captain Nangle, the medical officer, was killed whilst attending a wounded man, a great loss to the Battalion.

The losses on the opening day of the battle amounted to 16 Officers and 489 other ranks, killed, wounded and missing.

After Rosetta received the news of her husband`s death a brief article appeared in the Preston Guardian.Finch - JAMES 3

Rosetta was awarded a pension for herself and their five children amounting to 24s/6d per week with effect from 17th April 1916. She only received three of her late husband`s personal effects which was his identity disc, a Princess Mary box and a games register.

In the September quarter of 1916 Rosetta remarried to Albert Hesketh and went on to have four more children.

As James` body was never recovered from the battlefield his name was recorded on the Loos Memorial to the Missing. After the war Rosetta received James` medal entitlement to the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Private James Finch`s name also now appears on the newly created Farington War Memorial. The Memorial was dedicated on the 28th September 2015.

Rank: Private
Service No: 3541
Date of Death: 25/09/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Memorial: LOOS MEMORIAL

Family photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of Irene Banister granddaughter of James and Rosetta.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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4 Responses to 3541 PTE. J. FINCH. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Neva Thomas says:

    James was my grandfather. In the photograph of his widow Rosetta with their five children the baby on her knee is my mother Neva.

  2. Irene Banister says:

    Thank you Janet for reseaching and writing this article with compassion. From Irene Banister Granddaughter of James

    • Janet Davis says:

      Hello Irene, it was my pleasure to be able write it and many thanks for taking the time to comment it is very much appreciated.

      Thank you again for allowing us to use the photographs of James and his family. As promised if I find anything else I will be in touch.

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