Known as Bill, he was born in 1888 to Albert and Ada Finney who lived at Little Plain near Inverell. He was the fifth son in the family and with his siblings attended Little Plain School until 1902 when he then worked on local properties and later joined the NSW Railways. He enlisted on 23 December 1915, and agreed to serve from 12 January 1916. That day he became one of the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs who left Inverell for the Narrabri Camp.
With other volunteers Bill was moved to Armidale Camp where he became a member of the 33rd Battalion. Prior to his departure from Australia in May 1916, Bill was selected for signals training at Kiama NSW. After nine weeks at sea the Battalion arrived in England where further training was undertaken at Salisbury Plain.
In reminiscences of his War experience, published in The Inverell Times 19 April 1989, Bill said
‘… the 33rd Battalion marched through the streets of London. We were the first troops ever to march with fixed bayonets. Troops marching through Fleet Street was forbidden. The order to unfix bayonets had been forgotten.’
As part of the 3rd Division they were sent to France in November, travelling by train to Armentieres. During the Battle of Messines in June 1917 he was wounded in action and later awarded the Military Medal ‘for courage and devotion to duty’ during this battle. Bill was promoted to Corporal and attended an Army Signal School at Dunstable, England before his return to France.
Bill returned to Australia and was discharged in 1919. He went back to his job with NSW Railways until wining a Soldier Settler’s block of 400 acres at Little Plain. During World War II he served in the signals section of the Australian Garrison Brigade.
In later life Bill retired to Inverell to live where he died in 1993 aged 105 years. In his younger days he had been a keen cricketer and a member of the Little Plain Rifle Club.
Sergeant William Finney’s name is recorded on the Inverell and Little Plain Honour Rolls.
Photo courtesy IDFHG Inc