Maurice Walter Finch

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FINCH, Maurice Walter

Service no: 49536

Place of birth: Orange, 3 August 1891

Address: Tavistock, Devon, UK

Occupation: House painter

Next of kin: Stanley and Mary Finch, Caloola, Palmer Street, East Orange

Date of enlistment: September 1914

Place of enlistment: Shepherd's Bush, UK

Age at enlistment: 23 years

Fate: Killed in action, France

Date of death: 9 April 1917

Buried: The Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras, France

Maurice Walter Finch was born in Orange on 3 August 1891. He was the second son of Stanley and Mary Finch. He had one older brother, Roy Stanley Finch, born 1887.

In June 1913 Maurice travelled to England via Orsova. The purpose of the trip was to broaden his mind and advance his ideas in his trade of house painter. [1] A year after Maurice’s arrival in England war broke out, and by September 1914 Maurice had enlisted in the Kensington Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, Special Service Unit, for service abroad. Maurice enlisted at Shepherd’s Bush in London and did his training at Horsham in Sussex.

By May 1916 Maurice had spent seven months in the trenches of France. On 23 May he suffered a shrapnel wound to his foot and was transferred to England for x-rays. After his time in hospital he was sent to Edinburgh for furlough. In a letter home, written in September 1916, Maurice indicated that fighting in the battle he was injured in [presumably The Battle of Vimy Ridge] was fierce:

On the night I received my dose there were four men of my Company who received the DSM, one officer a DCO, and another a Military Cross. [2]

Sergeant Maurice Walter Finch returned to France and was killed in action on 9 April 1917. In August 1917 his parents received the following details of his death:

8th Royal Fusiliers. — I saw Finch buried by some man who buried Lt. Vernon, on April 9th. It was just about our objective
behind the German 4th lines, that he was shot down by a German sniper and in three minutes, three men (Lieut. Vernon, Finch, and another)
were shot down by the same sniper, and in three minutes Finch was buried in a shallow grave.
Manner of death. — Lieut. Vernon walked towards the German lines to take prisoners, as the Germans appeared to surrender,
and did so eventually, then Sgt. Finch and another corporal also came out of cover to help, but just before Sgt. Finch
reached Lieut. Vernon, Vernon was shot, and when the third man reached them, Finch was shot, then the other immediately after. [3]

Australians who serve overseas are not commemorated on the Australian War Memorial, nor is there a record of their service in the National Archives of Australia. British WWI records are scant; they were destroyed or severely damaged in the bombing on London in WWII.

Maurice Walter Finch is remembered on the Orange Public School Roll of Honour, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Roll of Honour and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “MW Finch”; it was donated by MUIOOF (Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows). Very few of the trees are still standing today.

  • Sharon Jameson and Margaret Nugent, January 2019

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