Until recently a simple cross marked the grave of 10/2932 Sergeant Edward Martin Finucane, 9th Company, 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, NZEF, in Foxton, who served in Egypt and the Western front in World War I.

The NZ Remembrance Army has taken the initiative to install a more fitting memorial.

Edward Martin Finucane was born in Wairoa, Hawke's Bay on October 17 1894, one of seven children born to Margaret and James Finucane.

Edward was 21 and living and working in Fielding when he enlisted for service with the NZEF.

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Eddie Finucane's previous memorial.
Eddie Finucane's previous memorial.

10/2932 Private Finucane left with the 7th Reinforcements, arriving in France in June 1916 and posted to the 1st Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment and promoted to Lance Corporal prior to "going over the top" at the Battle of the Somme.

Transferred to 9th (Wellington -West Coast) Company, 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry he was in all of the major Battles like Messines, Passchendaele, Bapaume that the NZ Division was involved in.

In the 1918 Second Battle of Bapuame, now Sergeant Finucane, was recommended for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.

"Near Bapaume during the operations August 24- September 4 1918, while acting as Platoon Sergeant this NCO showed marked gallantry throughout the operations. Despite heavy shell and machine-gun fire Sergeant Finucane carried out many reconnaissances in advance of his platoon. His conduct was a magnificent example to his comrades."

Three days before being awarded the Military Medal Sergeant Finucane was sentenced to 21 days confinement, on October 11 1918, for causing a disturbance in a public place, while drunk, for assaulting two (French) citizens of the country in which he is serving.

Dedication of Sgt Edward Finucane's memorial at Foxton Cemetery.
Dedication of Sgt Edward Finucane's memorial at Foxton Cemetery.

Reduced to Corporal Finucane he was awarded the Military Medal while 'attached' to the NZ Base Depot rejoining his unit on 8th November 1918 as the NZ Division reorganised after La Quesnoy.

Corporal Finucane was with the 2nd Battalion as it marched to the Rhine and service with the Army of Occupation. Corporal Finucane returned to the UK in January 1919. He was made a Sergeant and took part in the July 1919 Victory Parade in London before leaving for New Zealand on August 14 1919.

10/2932 Sergeant Edward Martin Finucane was discharged from the NZEF on October 30 1919 "on termination of his period of engagement".

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Edward returned to Foxton and was living at 52 Warwick St Fielding in the 1920s when he signed for his service medals.

The new memorial was installed with army officers, a bugler, a cannon, members of the local RSA, Mayor Bernie Wanden and Community Board chair David Roache as well as family members of Sgt Finucane.

His nephew Terry Burch, from Raumati Beach, said he only discovered his uncle's grave five years ago.

"I have visited from time to time and found someone had placed flowers on uncle Eddie's grave. I wonder if there is someone local who knows more about him."

He said Edward had married Clarina May Plante on October 31, 1919 (she died in 1972 and is also buried in Foxton) and they had one son, Malcolm, who had three daughters, and he had been trying to track them down.

Robyn and Terry Burch from Raumati Beach. Terry is a nephew of Edward Finucane.
Robyn and Terry Burch from Raumati Beach. Terry is a nephew of Edward Finucane.

"Once I managed to discovered their married names, it was much easier."

Burch, who was also born in Wairoa and himself served in the army for 22 years, including time in Vietnam, said he is grateful for the involvement of the Remembrance Army.

"They managed to connect me to him and contacted me one day saying they'd like to replace the little cross with something more substantial. Veterans' Affairs preferred applications from family members for this, so that's how I got involved.

"I know very little about my uncle and by the time I got interested, there was no-one left to ask more of."

Since he lived in Feilding and died in Foxton, Burch is hoping there is someone out there who might know more about his uncle.

He knows his uncle had a military medal for bravery, a 1914-1915 star, the British war medal and a victory medal.

He had a brother who also served in World War I and two brothers, who served in World War II, in New Zealand.

His grandfather came to New Zealand in 1846 with the British Army as a corporal, later corporal Wellington Provincial Police force and died in Napier. He and wife Julia had eight children, of which Burch's mother Molly was the youngest.