Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cornwall In The First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting an image showing Cornwall's First World War.

James Henry Finn was born in 1893 at St Clement near Truro; he had ten brothers and sisters.  The family moved to Bodmin and settled in Downing Street, but when James left school he travelled to the South Wales valleys, looking for work.   

He found a job at a colliery but when war began enlisted as a medic with his local regiment, the South Wales Borderers, joining the 4th Battalion.

James served at Gallipoli, but by spring 1916 his battalion was in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), fighting Turkish forces at the First Battle of Kut.   

On 9 April, south-east of Baghdad at Sannaiyat, the enemy mounted a night attack and many British soldiers were injured.   

Under heavy fire James crawled into no-man's land, close to the Turks’ trenches, to rescue wounded comrades. In separate journeys he carried two men back to his lines, and several times returned to bandage and comfort others.  He came under repeated fire and eventually was hit, though he made a recovery. 

For his gallantry that night, James was awarded the Victoria Cross; he also received the Order of Karageorge 1st Class, the equivalent medal of Serbia.

In the following March though, near Baghdad James was wounded again.  He was rescued, but his ambulance was hit by enemy fire and Private Finn died; he was 23 years old.  Today he’s remembered on Iraq’s Basra Memorial, set amidst a former battle-ground from the first Gulf War.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: 

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