Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private James Henry Finn V.C., 4th Battalion, the South Wales Borderers, died from wounds received after the fighting at Marl Plain in Mesopotamia.
One of eleven children of a soldier who had served in the Boer War (and who was to serve in the Great War also), he followed his father into the 1st/5th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He was employed in the colliery at Cwmtillery until the outbreak of the Great War. Private Finn then enlisted with the 4th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers. He saw action in 1915 at Gallipoli and was seriously wounded. After recuperating, he joined his Battalion in Mesopotamia.
On the 9th of April in 1916, Private Finn’s actions at Sanna-i-Yat earned him the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery”. The citation reads: “After 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.”
Just under a year later was involved in the fighting at Marl Plain, and received a serious leg wound. As he was being taken by stretcher to the field ambulance, the stretcher party came under attack. He was shot and died later that day. Private Finn was buried near the location of the field ambulance, but the whereabouts of his grave are now unknown. He is mentioned on the Basra War Memorial in Iraq.
James, born in Truro, Cornwall, was 23 years old.