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  • Writer's pictureSi Biggs

Sergeant Norman Finch RMA - Victoria Cross - Zeebrugge

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.

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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