GS/59601, Private, Henry FINCHAM
Aged 28

9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
formerly No.5445, Royal Fusiliers
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 27th March 1918

Henry Fincham was born in 1891 (Mildenhall Q1-1891 4A:779) son of Nehemiah and Eliza FINCHAM (née SHINKINS).

1891 census...Aged 2 months, he was at "Labourers Rest", Stock Corner, Kenny Hill with his father Nehemiah FINCHAM [33] farmer; his mother Eliza [33] born Gaywood, Norfolk; sister Pleasance L. [11]; brothers John C. [8], Robert [6] and Charles [3]. All except his mother were born in Mildenhall.

1901 census...Aged 10 he was at Undley Green, Mildenhall with his parents, sister Pleasance and brothers John C, Robert and Charles. All the men worked on the family farm.

1911 census...Aged 20, working on the farm, he was at Peter House Farm, Holywell Row, Mildenhall with his parents.

It appears that they moved to Naughton before the war. No pension card has been found.

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds when resident in Naughton.
He served in the 11th Battalion from 26/9/1916 to 13/10/1916, in the 10th Battalion from 14/10/1916 to 30/5/1917, then with the 24th Battalion from 6/12/1917 to 8/12/1917 and finally in the 9th Battalion.

From H. C. O'NEILL, O.B.E. "The Royal Fusiliers in the Great War":-

9th Battalion entered the battle a week after the start of the Kaiserschlacht (21st March). The Germans had thrown everything they had into this attack and were making great progress. On the 24th the 9th R Fusiliers had been at Auchy le Bois, and on the 25th had to travel all night to Albert. The position changed so rapidly in this area that they were first ordered to Montauban, then to Carnoy. The second order was cancelled, and they remained by the roadside. On the 26th they had new orders to take up position on the western bank of the river Ancre, in front of Aveluy, and they were in line by 6 a.m.
To the north lay the 7th Royal Fusiliers, who had crossed the river by the Authuile bridge and were holding the eastern edge of Aveluy Wood. From the high ground they could see the Germans moving towards Aveluy at 8 a.m., and the bridges were at once destroyed. An hour later, troops of the 12th Division relieved the battalion, who thereupon withdrew through the wood to Martinsart and Engelbelmer.
From the hollow, where the 9th Battalion lay, the enemy were not seen until midday, when they were observed advancing over the high ground east of the river. During the night the Germans made a determined attempt to cross the Ancre but were driven off by Lewis guns, machine guns and rifles. Farther north the enemy succeeded in forcing his way into Mesnil and the eastern edge of Aveluy Wood. To the south Albert was lost. At 3 a.m. on March 27th the 7th Battalion were in support to an attack of their brigade on the railway west of Albert. The Germans were prevented debouching from the town, and the battalion were moved to the Bouzincourt- Aveluy road, where they checked the enemy advance till late in the evening, when they were relieved and left the line. In this sector, March 27th again saw heavy fighting. At 8 a.m. the Germans renewed their attempts to force a crossing, but were again driven back by the 9th Royal Fusiliers. The battalion on the right were overwhelmed half an hour later and were closely pursued by the enemy. The 9th Battalion, with their right in the air, were forced back. A platoon under Captain Beaurains held on until completely surrounded, and then fought their way back to the high ground on the west of the village. D Company attempted to deliver a counter-attack, but the enemy machine-gun fire prevented them reaching the river. At 5 p.m. the Germans resumed their attack from the direction of Albert ; and, the right flank being again turned,the battalion fell back to the high ground in front of Martinsart Wood, where a line was organised during the night with the 5th Royal Berks on the right. To the north of the 9th Battalion, the enemy had attacked in strength with such success that the 5th Brigade were recalled, and the 24th Royal Fusiliers took over positions in close support along the northern edge of Aveluy Wood.

On the 28th the enemy attacked the railway embankment west of the wood, but the 24th Royal Fusiliers counter-attacked with two other battalions and drove them back. The right of the 9th Battalion was once more attacked at 9 a.m., but the attack was beaten off with loss. On the following day posts were established in the southern edge of Aveluy Wood without opposition ; but an attempt to establish a Lewis gun post down the forward slope was checked by machine-gun fire. The 9th and 24th Royal Fusilier Battalions on this front were relieved on the evening of this day, and the battle began to die down.

CWGC records show that the battalion lost 40 men killed, of which only 8 have identified graves.

photo: Roy Beardsworth

Henry Fincham is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, panel 19 to 21

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details