Harold Mugford VC and Harry Finch
History - EY History
Harold Mugford VC and Harry Finch
Pictures and newspaper reports provided by Bryan Harry Finch Mellem
My father Pte Harry Finch was closely involved in this action at Monchy-le-Preux on 11 April 1917. I understand that my father stayed with Harold Mugford under intense fire and dressed his wounds - but the Lance Corporal was soon incapacitated by his injuries. My father also fired a few bursts from the machine gun before removing Harold to safety.
The following is their story as told in the East Ham Echo
East Ham's Third VC
Public Presentation to Ex-Lance-Corporal Harold Mugford
The thrilling story of how Harold Mugford, gallant East Ham lad in the Machine Gun corps, won the Victoria Cross was told again at East Ham Town Hall on Thursday evening to (. . .) great assembly of townspeople who had (. . .) to witness the presentation to him by the Mayor of the proceeds of the public fund raised in the Borough as a token of appreciation of the honour conferred upon him. And (. . .) was told, too, by an eye-witness, Private Harry Finch, one of his comrades in the gun … who went out with him to the fight. It (. . .) as we know, at Monchy le Preux, a little village about eight or nine kilometres South-West of Arras, on April 11th last year. There had been some desperate fighting, and the position was still rather critical. The enemy (. . .) been massing for a counter-attack.
“The infantry,” said Private Finch, “had the order to take the village at all costs(. . .) of course, they took the village all right, but by the time they got there they were very much thinned out and it fell to our lot to (. . .) into action, and hold the position. We lost nearly half our men in galloping into Monchy le Preux, and when we got there we (. . .) ammunition. That put us back a bit and (. . .) found ammunition and got our gun into action. To give you some idea of how close we were (. . .) ”
Transcript from East Ham Echo 9th Aug 1918 Harry’s story
"This information has been kindly furnished us by an Ilford resident, whose son is now with the 1st Reserve Essex Yeomanry at Huntingdon, and whose youngest son is also with 4th Battalion Essex Regiment, now stations at Great Yarmouth.
A letter has also been received by Mr. H. Finch, of 52, Empress Avenue , Wanstead Park, from his son, Trooper E. H Finch (one of five related Finches in the regiment), from which we give extracts below:"
“ Pleased to say I am felling pretty fair-in fact, apart from the would, I am not feeling much the worse. I am now in hospital, and they say I shall be sent to England. Last Wednesday, the 12th of May, we were trench-digging near our front line, and had one or two casualties. We returned about two o’clock Thursday morning. We were kept in a line of trenches just outside [space- probably sensitive information] About five o’clock the word came through that the Germans had broken though , having mined our trenches, so we had to stand ready, in case our line fell back, but luckily, they were pushed back by the bayonet. Then commenced a terrific shell fire, which did little damage, owing to our covers, and also it was raining. At two o’clock on Thursday afternoon, word came through for us t support the Horse Guards and 10th Hussars (the two regiments that form the brigade with us) in an attack. We moved up in extended order. It was still raining, and shells were flying all around. “Fix bayonets” came next, and you should have seen how the brutes ran when we got near. We took two lines of trenches, and then came the time. They attacked us three times, but we drove them back, and then they commenced a hellish fire, from Maxim guns and “Johnsons”. It was a terrible night. Our fellows were knocked over by dozens. Both the Guards and Hussars, on our left and right, retired, but we had no order. The both A and C Squadrons of our regiment retired, leaving us there holding them back. Eventually our squadron retired, but the word did not reach the extreme right, consequently few of use were left there. But when we found we were left, up we got, and it was then I received a bullet through my right knee. I cast off my kit and crawled about two miles to the dressing station. Well, thank God, it is nothing serious, so don’t upset yourselves.”
H Mugford citation at Wikipedia