Finch, Herbert Marshall

He was born at Sonning, Berkshire on May 10th, 1866, the eldest son of the Reverend Thomas Ross Finch of Penwortham Hall, Lancashire, and one of three Wykehamist brothers.

After a period of service with the Militia in 1886 he joined the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, was appointed Adjutant in 1899 and served with them in many parts of the world. He went through the South African War, acting for part of the time as a railway staff officer, and was mentioned in Despatches and promoted Brevet Major. From 1907 to 1909 he was in command of his regimental depot at Reading.

He went to the Front in August 1914 and was wounded on November 2nd 1914, during the First Battle of Ypres. In February 1915 he was mentioned in Despatches and awarded the D.S.O. and on his return to France was appointed to the command of the 2nd Battalion of his regiment. He was killed on Sunday May 9th 1915 at Fromelles. “The Royal Berkshire Regiment” by F L Petrie (published 1925) gives much detail of the day in question and tells of the last moments of their commanding officer:   The situation was so terrible, and, in fact, the whole affair that morning had arisen to such a parlous condition… when the General sent for me and told me to take the front line on, and I started over that bullet-swept area, I did not notice the Colonel. But as I was crawling back to our own trenches, I saw him lying near our wire. He had certainly been hit, and told me his leg was numbed and that he was unable to use it. He was lying in a small hole in the ground where he was fairly safe, and I can see him now plucking the grass round him, and telling me he thought he had better endeavour to get in, as his wound was not painful, but he could not use his leg. I looked everywhere, and thought out everything; it would have been madness to try and pick him up and carry him to the old fire trench; the only possible thing to do was for him to wait where he was while I got a party to sap out to him (about eight to ten yards). This I told him, and then made for the fire trench as quickly as I could, and just manged to get in by the skin of my teeth: both my arms were out of action.” However, Finch tried to get back to his lines under his own steam. He almost made it, as West witnessed: “I went to find the best place to start the sap and to get extra shovels, when, to my horror, his head suddenly appeared over the parapet, and before another second passed a bullet hit him in the head and killed him instantly.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Finch married in 1895 Florence Kathleen, elder daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel E.C.S. Moore, commanding the Royal Engineers, Bermuda, and left three sons and one daughter: his eldest son, Second Lieutenant Frank Marshall Finch, the Royal Berkshire Regiment, fell near Arras on the 22nd September, 1918.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Finch
  • Forenames or initials: Herbert Marshall
  • House: A
  • Years in School: 1880-1884
  • Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
  • Regiment: Royal Berkshire Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 10th May 1866
  • Date of Death: 9th May 1915
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer H2
  • Decoration: DSO
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on the LE TOURET MEMORIAL: Panel 30