Ceremony honours Guardbridge’s Victoria Cross war hero who carried out incredible act of bravery

© Kenny SmithMembers of the Finlay family gather to admire the memorial following a Service and rededication ceremony of stone in honour of Fife VC hero David Finlay.
Members of the Finlay family gather to admire the memorial following a Service and rededication ceremony of stone in honour of Fife VC hero David Finlay.

Tributes were paid to a Fife war hero more than a century after his outstanding act of bravery.

David Finlay, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, was honoured by people in his home town of Guardbridge as his memorial was rededicated.

The Black Watch sergeant was given the highest military honour for gallantry for his actions in leading a bombing party of 12 men on the Western Front during the First World War.

© Kenny Smith Photography
The Queen’s Trumpeter Stewart Malcolm waits to play during a Service and re-dedication ceremony in honour of Fife VC hero David Finlay.
© Kenny Smith Photography
Local schoolchildren Lyle Barnett (L) and Ellis Stuart join in with the salute.

A memorial stone was laid in 2015 in Guardbridge, where he was born in 1893, but it has been moved to a more prominent position beside the village’s war memorial.

A rededication service on Friday was led by the Rev John Duncan, Black Watch Association padre and minister of Leuchars St Athernase Parish Church.

It was also attended by association members, Tayport branch members of the Royal British Legion (Scotland), service men and women from 71 Engineers Regiment at Leuchars Station, local schoolchildren, residents and councillors.

© Kenny Smith Photography
Commanding Officer of 71st Regiment Royal Engineers L/Col Will Smallwood gives a reading during the service.

Children laid a wreath they had made illustrating open hands at the stone.

Mr Duncan said it was wonderful to see both young and old recognising Finlay’s heroism.

He said: “David Finlay went to war and sadly he did not come back but during the war he was awarded the highest military honour.

“For a small village like Guardbridge to have someone who came from humble origins and achieved that honour, it was wonderful to have everyone come together and give due recognition.

“We are pleased that the memorial is now at Guardbridge war memorial. It means that each year on Remembrance Sunday when we come to remember the fallen there is a special place for David Finlay VC.”

It was on May 9, 1915 near Rue du Bois, France, that Lance Corporal Finlay led the 2nd Battalion bombing party until all but two of them had fallen.

He ordered the survivors to crawl back as he went to the aid of a wounded man and carried him over 100 yards to safety while under heavy enemy fire.

Finlay, who was a ploughman before he enlisted in 1910 at the age of 18, was later promoted to sergeant but was killed in action in what is now Iraq on January 21, 1916.

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