Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Frederick Thorley Finucane

Frederick Thorley Finucane : Photograph of Fred by kind permission of ashtonpals.webs.com

Photograph of Fred by kind permission of ashtonpals.webs.com

Frederick Thorley Finucane : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Fred was born in 1899 in Bardsley, Ashton-under-Lyne. His father was called Theodore and his mother was Emily. Fred had an older brother called John, whose medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.

Theodore lived at Bardsley Lodge in 1901, and worked as a goods receiver, but before this he had followed 'every male member of the Finucane family' since the 1850s by serving in either the Army or the Navy. We don't know which regiment Theodore served with.

Fred's grandfather (we don't know his name) had served in the Army, enlisting in around 1850, '15 months before Lord Roberts' as he proudly put it. Frederick Roberts (The Earl Roberts) was an extremely famous Victorian soldier, who had won the Victoria Cross in 1858 and reached the rank of Field Marshal by 1904. The two had met in India in 1851 and Fred's grandfather was very proud of a signed letter from the Field Marshal thanking him for sending 80th birthday congratulations in 1912.

Fred was only 14 years old when he decided to join in this family tradition. His father gave him permission to enlist in the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in March 1914. This was a unit of the Territorial Force, so Fred would have still had a civilian job and trained to be a soldier during the weekend. He was given the service number 1845. Fred was tall for his age, at 5 feet 8 inches.

The First World War broke out in August and Fred was called into service. The 9th Battalion went into camp on Chesham Road in Bury on the 20th August, then moved to Southampton and sailed to Egypt on the 9th September. During the voyage the battalion was reorganised, and Fred found himself in B Company.

Fred arrived in Egypt on the 25th September. He seems to have enjoyed Egypt, and it must have been his first experience of a foreign country. He sent letters home to his parents describing seeing the Pyramids at Giza, and taking part in training during the night. Fred was always cheerful and happy in his letters, and seems to have loved his new role. Many of his friends sent parcels out to him.

Disease was a constant danger to men living in cramped conditions, in a new environment and with limited sanitation. Fred caught dysentery and, despite the best efforts of his doctors, he died on the 27th November 1914. He was just 15 years old.

The news came as a shattering blow to his family. They were consoled by their friends and neighbours, as well as the knowledge that Fred had been proud of doing his part in the war effort.

By this time John had also joined the 9th Battalion. He would serve in Gallipoli during 1915, and also caught dysentery. He was returned to the UK and died exactly a year after Fred, aged 19. Theodore's brother Arthur had also enlisted in August 1914. He had previously served for 21 years and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, but at 41 was no longer fit enough, so he was discharged that November. He died on the 9th May 1915.

Fred is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. His grave reference is B.123.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council