Saturday, 24 September 2016

On this day, 25th September 1916, Guardsman Ernest Finnamore died.

Guardsman 25386

1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
Died age 24
25th September 1916
Ernest Finnamore was born on 31st May 1891 at Church Town, St Johns near Torpoint, one of the sons of John, an agricultural labourer, and Emma Finnamore. His parents seemed to have died when he was young and at the time of the 1901 census (taken on 31st March) he was living with his uncle and aunt, William and Ann Finnamore, in Venterdon.

Luckily and very unusually, Ernest’s Service Record has survived the WW2 Blitz and, from this, we are able to get a good picture of his army service. He joined the 5th Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry (DCLI) Territorial Force in Callington on 14th January 1910 but moved shortly after that to Falmouth where the 1911 census (taken on 2nd April 1911) shows him boarding at 4 Kohinoor Place and working as a ship breaker.

Pre 1914 there were two DCLI Territorial battalions of the DCLI – the 4th and 5th DCLI. The former recruited in the west of the County (including Truro) and the latter in the east of the County. Territorial Force soldiers had no liability to serve outside the United Kingdom unless they had signed an agreement to do so. When war was declared on 4th August 1914, all those who had signed such an agreement were formed into two battalions, regardless of whether they were originally from the 4th or 5th . These battalions were known as the 1/4th and 2/4th DCLI (TF). They were to be employed in India to relieve regular battalions for service on the Western Front.

Ernest remained with the 4th Battalion DCLI as a territorial taking part in its regular training activities and had the rank of Lance Corporal at the time of the outbreak of WW1. In early 1915 he became a Temporary Acting Corporal in the 1st/4th Battalion, by which time he is serving in India. He was based there until December 1915 when he returned to the UK to serve out the remainder of his 6 year engagement with the DCLI. On the very day this expired, he enlisted in the Grenadier Guards in Truro on 13th January 1916. He then travelled to the Grenadier Guards barracks at Caterham in Surrey and, after a period of training, he entered the French Theatre of War on 28th August 1916. In less than one month on French soil he was killed at the Battle for Lesboeufs on the Somme on 25th September. The village of Lesboeufs was attacked by the Guards Division on 15th September 1916 and captured by them on the 25th. During this action, which was successful in meeting its objectives, the total casualties for the 1st Battalion from the trench warfare were: 4 officers killed, 12 wounded. 80 other ranks killed and 431 wounded. 84 missing. Ernest Finnamore was one of the missing and his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. As well as the Stoke Climsland War Memorial, Ernest is remembered on memorials in Torpoint, St John by Anthony and Falmouth, representing places associated with his early years and where he worked.
Details from the commemorative plaque on the cross just outside of Anthony. It lists the names of those lost in Sheviock, Torpoint, St Johns and Anthony.
Detail from the St Johns cross.
Falmouth War Memorial.
Ernest Finnamore's medal roll showing his entitlement to decorations is interesting. As might be expected he had the War and Victory medals from his time in the Grenardier Guards but from his time in the DCLI, he was also entitled to the Territorial Force War Medal. Given the novelty of this, a little information is appropriate.
Ernest Finnamore's medal roll cards.
Territorial Force War Medal.

The Territorial Force War Medal was a campaign medal awarded to members of the British Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services who served overseas in World War I; it is the rarest of the five British Great War medals. The medal was established in April 1920 for award to members of the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services who volunteered for service overseas on or before 30th September 1914, and served overseas. They had to:
◾ have been serving with the force on 4th August 1914 or
◾ have completed four years service with the force before 4th August 1914 and rejoined the force on or before 30th September 1914. In addition provided they:
◾ Undertook, either verbally or by written agreement on or before 30th September 1914 to serve outside the United Kingdom, such agreement being operative after 4th August 1914, and
◾ Have served outside the United Kingdom between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 (both dates inclusive; note that the last date was in 1918 though the years on the reverse of the medal say 1914-19) and
◾ Did not qualify for the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star.

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