James William Finch
Armourer, RAFVR

Town Memorial WWII Panel

His headstone in the churchyard of SS Mary & Nicholas Leatherhead
(which was wet with water to enable his now very faint inscription to be photographed)

Our Dear Jimmy
James William Finch
Died June 24th 1945, Aged 20 Years
Following Service with R.A.F.
Onward Christian Soldier

Date of Death: 24/6/45

James William Finch cannot yet be traced on the CWGC database. His headstone states that he served in the Royal Air Force.

Norman Finch writes: Jim, as he was known to his family, served in the Royal Air Force as an armourer, having been called up in 1943. He became ill at his airfield in the weeks following the D-Day landings in June 1944. This was a particularly hectic time, the armourers working long hours as planes were being turned around quickly for the next operation.

Whilst loading a bomb onto a plane, he fell back on another, hurting the base of his spine. This accident was not reported to the Station Doctor as Jim preferred not to risk being prevented from taking a weekend's leave to see his family, due the following week. When he did arrive home (3 Highlands Avenue, Leatherhead) on the Saturday he was looking rather ill.

Jim and I (his younger brother by 3 years) were put in a double bed downstairs in the back room with the French door kept open so that, should a Doodle Bug [V1] come over, we could run to the air-raid shelter. That night a Doodle Bug did come over and cut out. I was out of the room fast but there was no movement from Jim as I yelled to him. The Doodle Bug exploded approximately 2 miles away near the golf course at the end of Kingston Road.

When mum came to see what had happened, she saw how ill Jim looked and how he was suffering. Early in the morning she phoned for the doctor. He soon arrived, examined Jim, then called for an ambulance. Jim was taken off to the hospital (previously the Blind School) virtually across the road at Highlands Road.

At this point we were told that Jim was suffering from TB which had started in the base of the spine. A few days later, Jim was taken away to a Military Hospital near Maidstone called Preston Hall, British Legion Village.

Jim remained mostly in this hospital during his illness. When death was approaching, he was transferred to Reigate Hospital where he died on June 24th 1945.

James William Finch was born in Goodmayes, London in 1925 to Mr and Mrs William Jewson Finch. In 1927, the family moved to the new home at 3 Highlands Road, Leatherhead. At the age of 11 Jim went to school at Leatherhead Central School, Kingston Road.

Information is sought on which unit he was serving whilst in the RAF.

Surrey Advertiser
Saturday 30 June 1945

The death occurred on Sunday Mr. James William Finch, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Finch, of 3, Highlands Avenue, Leatherhead. He was 20 years of age. He was educated at Leatherhead Central. School, and was employed with the Leatherhead Building Company until he joined the R.A.F. 1943. He was discharged as medically unfit in December. The funeral was arranged for Thursday at Leatherhead Parish Church.

1. St Mary & St Nicholas Leatherhead Graves database, Leatherhead & District Local History Society
2. Norman Finch, of Tenterden, James's younger brother - with thanks to Heather Maynard who enabled contact.

J Finch was one of the names on which information was sought in a letter to the Leatherhead Advertiser, July 2004.

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him , and of further recollections of him.

last updated 2 Nov 2004: 7 Jul 20