Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 7 Clasps: Barrosa, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, awarded to Bugler Henry Finch, 1st Battalion, 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment of Foot

London Medal Company Military General Service Meda.

The regimentally unique rank Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 7 Clasps: Barrosa, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, awarded to Bugler Henry Finch, 1st Battalion, 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment of Foot, who was present in the raising of the siege of Cadiz in 1811, being present at the battles of Barrosa, and Vittoria, the actions in the Pyrenees, and the battles of Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, and Toulouse, and then finally Waterloo in June 1815.

Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 7 Clasps: Barrosa, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse; (H. FINCH, BUGLER, 28TH FOOT.)

Condition: suspension very neatly repaired, contact wear and some scuffing, about Very Fine.

Henry Finch was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, circa 1793, and enlisted into the British Army when aged 16 on 19th August 1809, joining as a Drummer and Bugler the 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment of Foot, he was then posted with 1st Battalion to Gibraltar in March 1810, and then landed with the force under General Sir Thomas Graham at Cadiz, the intention being to raise the siege of Cadiz, which was successfully achieved at the battle of Barrosa where Finch was present on 5th March 1811, where his Battalion suffered 195 casualties. During the battle, Lieutenant Colonel John Frederick Browne, who had joined the regiment in 1781, commanded the 1/28th Foot of which Finch was a part, and as Browne led his men against overwhelming French numbers he broke into his favourite song 'Hearts of Oak'.

In 1812 the 28th Foot played a minor role in Wellington's operations before it caught up with the main Allied army at Burgos in Sapetember 1812. Finch was next present at the battle of Vittoria on 21st June 1813 and during this action the 28th Foot with Finch present, led the attack on the 2nd Division and during the day's fighting 200 of the 818 men of the 28th Foot became casualties. Being then present during the Pyrenees operations, Finch was present with his Battalion during the fight at the pass of Maya on 25th July 1813, where a picquet of the 28th Foot under Major Bradby, was surrounded by a French force of ten times their number and fell back up the hill, fighting to the last until every man was either killed or wounded. At the same battle, Ensign Hill, seizing the Colours shouting, 'The Slashers shall never want a man to display their Colours to the enemy'. Hill was shot soon afterwards, but by the time the bullet passed through the folds of his handkerchief it had lost its force and he survived.

Finch was next present at the battle of Nivelle on 10th November 1813, the battle of Nive from 9th to 13th December 1813, and the battle of Orthes on 27th February 1814, being being present in the 28th Foot's last action of the Peninsula War at Toulouse on 10th April 1814 where it lost 31men. The 1st Battalion, 28th Foot then left for Ireland, however with the renewal of hostilities, Finch was present with the battalion out in Flanders from May 1815, and was then present at the battle of Quatre Bras on 16th June 1815 and at the battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815, and during both of these actions the regiment covered itself in glory. At Quatre Bras the 1/28th Foot lost 75 men and two days later at Waterloo it lost 177 men. On 10th July 1815 the regiment entered Paris and Finch together with the battalion eventually returned home four months later.

Finch would remain in the British Army with the 28th Foot for some considerable time after the war, being appointed to Private from 6th June 1816, before reverting to Drummer from 25th August 1817, and finally being reappointed to Private from 3rd January 1822. Finch was eventually discharged in the rank of Private from the 28th Foot after 21 years and 112 days service including the 2 years added for Waterloo on 8th December 1830, and is noted in his conduct as 'has been indifferent arising totally from drunkeness'. Finch then appears to have gone on to work as a weaver in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where he is found in the 1851 Census as aged 58, and living together with his wife Hannah, aged 46, and three children, the eldest, a daughter, Elizabeth being aged 17, and the two boys, Thomas and Henry, aged 13 and 11 respectively, at 31 Back of Snow Hill. Nuneaton. Finch had obviously obtained some wealth, as the family had one servant, and he is recorded as employing one man, two boys and three women, presumably working in the weaving business.  

By the time of the 1861 Census, Finch is aged 71, and living together with his wife Hannah, then aged 54, and their youngest child, a Thomas Finch aged 4, though he may well have been the couple's grandson. Finch was at the time still working as a ribbon weaver, and was by then living next door to his previous residence at 30 Snow Hill, Nuneaton, this being a smaller residence to 31 Snow Hill. Additionally entitled to the Waterloo Medal 1815 in the rank of Drummer, Finch is unique in his regiment to receive the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 with the rank of Bugler, his medal and clasp entitlement being confirmed.


13 June 2017