This story is the result of an investigation of documents held by Surrey History Centre. The file (SHC ref. CC7/4/4, nos. 1-50) contains correspondence and insurance claims on behalf of Surrey County Council Education Department employees who had been killed in action during the Great War. The cases date from 1915 to 1918.
Case 14: Ernest Frederick Fincher
Before joining the Territorial Army, Fincher was an assistant master at Tolworth Council School. In the years before his death, it is evident that Ernest provided a lot of support for his parents in managing the home, as they were both unwell. Unmarried, it is believed that Ernest was the only son amongst 5 or 6 sisters, and that only the youngest was still at home to keep the house. The others were either married or living away from home for their jobs. The Finchers are described as being a respectable family, however at 61 years old the mother was slowly dying, and was in need of money to pay for special nourishment. Ernest died on 19 July 1916 after being hit by a shell. In a letter to his parents following his death, a comrade wrote of Ernest: ‘a more competent soldier one could not wish to find, he was perfectly excellent’.