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Sergeant Norman Finch RMA - Victoria Cross - Zeebrugge

Updated: Apr 23

Unit/ Formation: Victoria Cross Location: Belgium

Period/ Conflict: World War I Year: 1918 Date/s: 23 April 1918

Finch was 27 years old, and a sergeant in the Royal Marine Artillery, Royal Marines during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.


On 22/23 April 1918 at Zeebrugge, Belgium, Sergeant Finch was second in command of the pom-poms and Lewis gun in the foretop of HMS Vindictive.



At one period Vindictive was being hit every few seconds, but Sergeant Finch and the officer in command kept up a continuous fire, until two heavy shells made direct hits on the foretop killing or disabling everyone except Sergeant Finch who was, however, severely wounded.


Nevertheless, he remained in his battered and exposed position, harassing the enemy on the Mole until the foretop received another direct hit, putting the remainder of the armament completely out of action.


Serjeant Norman Augustus Finch, R.M.A., No. R.M.A./12150.


For most conspicuous gallantry. Serjeant Finch was second in command

of the pompoms and Lewis guns in the foretop of "Vindictive," under Lieutenant

Charles N. B. Rigby, R.M.A.


At one period the "Vindictive" was being hit every few seconds, chiefly in the

upper works, from which splinters caused many casualties. It was difficult to locate the guns which were doing the most damage, but Lieutenant Rigby, Serjeant Finch and the Marines in the foretop, kept up a continuous fire with pompoms and Lewis guns, changing rapidly from one target to another, and thus keeping the enemy's fire down to some considerable extent.


Unfortunately two heavy shells made direct hits on the foretop, which was com-

pletely exposed to enemy concentration of fire. All in the top were killed or disabled

except Serjeant Finch, who was, however, severely wounded; nevertheless he showed

consummate bravery, remaining in his battered and exposed position. He once more

got a Lewis gun into action, and kept up a continuous fire, harassing the enemy on the

mole, until the foretop received another direct hit, the remainder of the armament

being then completely put out of action.


Before the top was destroyed Serjeant Finch had done invaluable work, and by his bravery

undoubtedly saved many lives.


This very gallant serjeant of the Royal Marine Artillery was selected by the 4th Bat-

talion of Royal Marines, who were mostly Royal Marine Light Infantry, to receive the

Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29th January, 1856.


The entire 4th Battalion Royal Marines was awarded the Victoria Cross for the action, triggering Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross warrant stipulating that a ballot must be drawn to select the recipients. Although the Victoria Cross rules specify that four Victoria Crosses should be awarded this way (one to an Officer, one to an NCO, and two to other ranks) they were not observed and only two Victoria Crosses were awarded.


This was the last time that Victoria Crosses were awarded by ballot, although the rule still exists within the Victoria Cross warrant.


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