Andrew James Finnie

Lance Corporal Andrew James Finnie
Vanderhoof, British Columbia
The Canadian Scottish Regiment

Lance Corporal Finnie is sponsored by the District of Vanderhoof, BC.
Lance Corporal Finnie était parrainé par District of Vanderhoof, BC.

Andrew James Finnie was one of many soldiers who served to protect his country and lost their lives on D-day in Normandy. Finnie was a son, a brother to six, a husband, a father of two, and loved by many others. He was also a very hard worker in his community doing jobs like road work and repair management. His life was sacrificed for the betterment of our nation as a whole.

Andrew James Finnie was an average man who worked for his town doing regular jobs until one day his whole life changed, by signing up to join the military.

Andrew Finnie was born on February 6th 1913 on a small farm in Cana, Saskatchewan but only resided there for 14 months until he moved to Melville Saskatchewan. Eight years later he moved to Vanderhoof B.C until he enlisted. Although he moved regularly, Finnie eventually completed elementary school and two years of high school before dropping out. After dropping out, he applied for a part time job as a movie operator at the local cinema. When he stopped working there, he went to work for the city as a labourer, working as a truck driver and did road repair work before leaving to serve in the war.

Finnie shared the same given name as his father. Finnies father was born in Scotland in 1871. When he became of age he volunteered for the army and served in the Boer War. In 1899 he met Janet Meikle.  Janet and Andrew were very different in age. Andrew was 16 years older than his wife who was born in 1887. Although this is a rarity in the present time of age, it was not strange for a couple to be so separated during their era. The two got married in Glascow Scotland. The pair moved to Canada together and settled in the Weber Lake district (Saskatchewan) and had five kids together. They had five daughters, one son, and fostered one other brother. Andrew was their youngest of 5 kids, only older than his foster brother, and his deceased infant sister.

Andrew got married on January 25th, 1936 to Margaret E. Finnie. They had two kids together. Helen Deanna who was born in 1939 on September 21st, 3 years after Andrew and Margaret got married. Donald Gordon was born a year and a half later on March 27th 1941. The family was a part of the United Church.  Donald was only 11 days old when his father was appointed to active service. Andrew was leaving his wife his daughter and his infant son alone with nobody to help her take care of them. All of his proceeds from serving in the war went to providing for his family in every way he possibly could.

When Finnie was killed in action, his daughter likely had no recollection of him and his son definitely did not because he had only a few months with his father before he was sent overseas.

Finnie enlisted to the army July 11th 1940 in Vanderhoof BC. He entered the Royal Canadian Scottish Regiment. From then on he was a part of the military. Finnie began his career as a Pte (Private). He served in Canada for the first two years, training for the possible that he might enter active service. This was nice for him because after a few weeks of training in B.C, he could still go and see his family and his newborn daughter. Going back and forth between training and family was a life well lived and during this time Margaret became pregnant again. For the next few months the couple awaited the birth of their next child. March 27th, 1941 was the day, Margaret gave birth to a son. Andrew got to spend this time at home with his family instead of being out training. Andrew and Margaret decided to name their new baby boy Donald Gordon. 11 days after his son was born he was told he was being put on active service. Slightly longer than a year passed, and Finnie was told he was going to the United Kingdom (UK) to fight the forces of the Axis.

June 2nd (1942) arrived, and Finnie said farewell to his family and boarded a ship to go serve in the UK. This was the last time Finnie ever saw Canadian soil. His boat ride was 10 days long, on a boat with hundreds of other Canadians that were going to the UK to serve. The first month of his training in the UK was relatively uneventful, and lots of time was spent just becoming accustomed to the land and nation. But, exactly one month after arriving in the UK he was awarded a Good Conduct badge in training and was promoted almost immediately.

A Good Conduct badge is usually presented to somebody who shows exemplary leadership in a training exercise or does something in particular that is viewed as above and beyond. Finnie was awarded his badge for reasons that are unknown.

Now being a L/Cpl (Lance Corporal), Finnie was making more money than he was as a Private and could support his family with more to give them. Unfortunately, a month later  he took 6 days private leave and was demoted to Pte again, suggesting that he did something quite bad while he was on leave. Then later in November he took another 3 days leave, but this time no punishments arose.

In February of 1943 during a training exercise, Finnie was injured and was admitted to the Canadian General Hospital for 11 days. He was diagnosed with abrasion to the knee, bruised ribs, and dislocated costal cartilage. After being released he was TOS (taken on strength: he was moved to this unit) to the Canadian Infantry Reinforcements Units. While in this unit, he re-earned his position as a L/Cpl on October 15th 1943. A couple months later in January, he also received the Canadian Voluntary service medal and clasp. His final notable mention is when he was sent to fight in Normandy on Juno Beach where he was killed.

June 4th, two days before the invasion, and troops were incredibly relaxed considering they were about to face one of the biggest challenges of their life. The overcast was cloudy but clear, and a slight wind to could be felt. Church services were held on the boat and a concert was played throughout the day. Otherwise, soldiers wrote letters to their families and enjoyed their time with others like playing cards or just chitchatting. Diaries stated that the majority of this day was pretty boring.

June 5th was said to be a much more eventful day. Soldiers were given a map of the area that they would be assaulting. Their objective was to sever the Tilly-Caen railway in Normandy. Much of the day was spent prepping for the next day’s adventures. Packs were checked, guns tested, grenades were readied and people all around the boat were trying to mentally prepare. Most troops were not overly tense at the prospect of the assault and most could be found joking around with the other soldiers. As the L.S.I.’s (their boats) left Ryde and the Isle of Wight soldiers lined up to get one final glimpse of the place where they had so recently been training and enjoying themselves. When the end of the day came near, soldiers were directed to go to sleep early so that they would be in full health and well rested when the morning came.

The morning of June 6th finally arrived. At 04:30, “Wakey Wakey” came over the PA system as soldiers began to rise. Troops left their dorms to have breakfast, fully aware that this would be their last true meal for a couple of days. At 07:00 A.L.C.’s (Amphibious land crawlers) were dropped from the mother ships and had a 7 mile drive to land. Finnie was serving in a unit of 37 officers, and 814 other ranked soldiers. Despite being calm and relaxed at breakfast time, nerves were beginning to set in to the troops. Anti-sickness pills that had been taken the night before and in the morning were having little effect on the troops as bags became a useful place to be sick. As the fleets approached land, no sign of enemy activity could be seen from the ships.

At 07:50 first combat was made. “C” Company was deployed first with the objective to destroy a pill box located on shore (between the Mike and Love sector). Difficulty came when the company faced heavy sniper fire, and a few bursts from the M.G in the pill box. “B” company was deployed very close to there and was being heavily hit by rounds from another pill box that was removed by the beach company. “A” company was actually deployed 50 meters from where they were supposed to have been, which benefited them in the end because it saved many casualties that they would have suffered from the machine guns that devastated the “B” company. The final company, “D” company was deployed last, after most enemy troops had been dealt with and used their bicycles to attempt to capture two bridges.

For the next few hours, these soldiers went through hell on earth entering no man’s land and watched their friends that they have been training with for years fall face down on that beach is an experience that the vast majority of people will never experience. Something that would bring out great sadness and anger alike and have the only thing you can do is continue on and complete what you were assigned to do.

Andrew Finnie played a role in the battle and in the end they succeeded in their mission. He spent his final days making our country a better place to live, no matter the sacrifices.

Finnie was generally a very healthy man. His dental records all checked out very well and he never got any diseases or was sick enough to attend the hospital. The only time he went to the hospital was when during a training exercise. What happened is unsure but Finnie suffered 11 days in the hospital with knee abrasion, dislocated ribs, and bruised costal cartilage. He was admitted to the hospital February 19th 1943 and was removed March 2nd.  Serving 4 years in the military and only attending sick bay once is very impressive. The reason he was so healthy could relate back to when he was much younger growing up on the farm. Working on the farm would have made his body much stronger and more resilient to injuries and sicknesses. If he had not grown up on the farm he might have been much more prone to problems.

Andrew Finnies exact place of death is unknown. All that is known is that he died in Normandy on D-Day.

Andrew Finnie, along with thousands of other people have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. In WWII alone, nearly 45,500 military personnel lost their lives in an attempt for freedom, and it worked. Now as a nation, we are still reaping the rewards that they sacrificed so much for and we will always be in debt to them. This is why it is so important to never forget.

Andrew Finnie now lies in the Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian Military cemetery along with over two thousand other soldiers who lost their lives. Finnie is buried in Grave 6 Row D plot 6. Inscribed on his grave stone are the words “As Long As Life And Memory Last, We Will Remember You”.

Written by: a student at Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute in Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Rédigé par:un élève de Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute, Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.

 

REMEMBER TODAY, REMEMBER ALWAYS.

THIS TRIBUTE PROFILE CONTAINS AVAILABLE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE CANADIANS WHO DIED ON JUNO BEACH ON 6 JUNE 1944. THE PROFILE ALSO RECOGNIZES THE INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION WHO GENEROUSLY SPONSORED THIS SOLDIER, AND INCLUDES A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOLDIER’S NATIVE TONGUE AND HAS BEEN COMPILED BY THE LEST WE FORGET PROGRAM AND, IN SOME CASES, THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE SOLDIERS.  DUE TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS AND THE SPARSE AVAILABILITY OF FIRST-HAND WITNESSES, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME THAN OTHERS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY MATERIAL OR HELP IN OUR EFFORTS TO PRESENT THE BIOGRAPHIES IN BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH, PLEASE CONTACT: JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.

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CE PORTRAIT CONTIENT DES INFORMATIONS BIOGRAPHIQUES RELATIVES À L’UN DES CANADIENS QUI SONT MORTS SUR LA PLAGE JUNO, LE 6 JUIN 1944. IL PORTE ÉGALEMENT MENTION DE LA PERSONNE OU DE L’ORGANISATION QUI A GÉNÉREUSEMENT PARRAINÉ CE SOLDAT, AINSI QU’UN MESSAGE DE REMERCIEMENT EN SOUVENIR DE SON SACRIFICE. CES INFORMATIONS SONT DISPONIBLES DANS LA LANGUE MATERNELLE DU SOLDAT ET ONT ÉTÉ COMPILÉES PAR LE PROGRAMME LEST WE FORGET ET, DANS CERTAINS CAS, GRÂCE À LA GÉNÉROSITÉ DES PERSONNES LIÉES AUX SOLDATS. EN RAISON DE LA DISPARITÉ DES DOCUMENTS HISTORIQUES ET DES RARES TÉMOINS DE L’ÉPOQUE, NOUS NE DISPOSONS PAS DE LA MÊME QUANTITÉ D’INFORMATION SUR TOUS LES SOLDATS. SI VOUS SOUHAITEZ COMPLÉTER NOTRE DOCUMENTATION OU NOUS AIDER DANS NOS EFFORTS POUR PRÉSENTER LES BIOGRAPHIES EN FRANÇAIS ET EN ANGLAIS, MERCI DE CONTACTER : JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.