25-year-old Corporal William Reginald Finley, 1st Life Guards, died of wounds on 20th May 1918 after being injured by an aerial bomb some days before. Born in Bentley Heath, Solihull in 1892, he was the only son of parents William Robert and Elizabeth (née Ravenhill) who had married in Aston in 1889. The couple also had four daughters.
William and Elizabeth Finley set up home in Bentley Heath, where their eldest daughter, Winifred Maud, was born in 1890 and their son, William Reginald, was born in 1892. William’s occupation was listed as a School Attendance Officer, a post he obtained on 1st June 1888. By 1894, when the third child, Dorothy Blackshaw Finley (1894-1970), was born, the family had moved to Knowle. The youngest two daughters – Gladys Mary (1900-1999) and Frances Joyce (1905-1994) – were also born in Knowle. William Reginald apparently sang in the choir at St Philip’s Church, Dorridge.
Sometime between 1905 and 1911, the family moved to Mill Lane, Solihull, where the two eldest daughters, Winifred and Dorothy, were working as a telephone operator and dressmaker respectively. Solihull’s first telephone exchanged was operated from the front room of a private house in Mill Lane.
By 1911, 18-year-old William Reginald Finley had left the family home and was living in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, where he was working as a railway clerk with the Great Western Railway (GWR). He joined the Life Guards in November 1914, at which time it seems he was working as a clerk for the GWR’s Traffic Department in Stourbridge.
In 1915, William Reginald Finley married Annie Draisey in the Wolverhampton area. He was sent to France in December 1915, and It doesn’t seem that they had any children.
Corporal William Reginald Finley is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, France. He is commemorated locally on Solihull war memorial, an in the Soldiers’ Chapel in Knowle.
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