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Oral history interview with Thomas Finigan

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.10 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0010

Thomas Finigan, born in Portsmouth, England, describes his background; his father being in the military; attending school in Egypt between 1925 and 1939; being an apprentice tradesman with the Royal Engineers in Great Britain from 1939 to 1943; joining the Royal Engineers in July 1939; training as a carpenter; the manufacturing of duckboards; the Hawkins grenade; the reasons for the issuing of pickhelves instead of rifles; his opinion of trade training; the reasons for turning down of his application to join airborne forces; being a sapper in the 85 Field Coy, Royal Engineers beginning in 1943; the equipment he carried and the sleeping arrangements; an accident with a Bangalore Torpedo at Studland Bay; the minefield casualties amongst the unit; the confidence prior to D-Day landings; the transit camp at Chandler's Ford; studying maps of beaches; the uselessness of metal detectors on D-Day; security arrangements at Chandler's Ford, changing money, and watching newly released films; the fatalism of unit’s NCO; their embarkation at Southampton on June 1, 1944 and returning to port on the 5th; his memories of D-Day: crossing the channel, the collision between his landing craft and another going into the beach, hitching lift on an armored car blown up by an anti-tank gun, the role of the “Byng” force and its fate, and clearing the beaches of mines; the casualties to German S Mines and the origins of mines they disabled; the German use of booby traps; laying of tracks for vehicles; the use of rafts and storm boats; the smell of dead men and animals in Falaise Gap in August 1944; the handling of German POWs; the evacuation of British troops with minor medical complaints; the surrender of German cyclists to unit on banks of the River Seine in August 1944; the system of handing over bridges to military police; the lack of contact with French civilians; the congestion on the roads in Netherlands during Operation Market Garden; the relations between officers and other ranks in the Guards Armoured Division; the construction of artillery range; crossing the Rhine in March 1945 and capturing a Hitler Youth member; visiting Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp; fraternizing with German children; being a sapper with the 8 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers in Palestine from 1946 to 1947; his duties; the wounding and capture of Zionist minelayers; operations as a warrant officer with 34 Field Squadron, 37 Army Engineer Regt, Royal Engineers in Cyprus (1955-1958); discovering that the next door neighbor’s son was an EOKA leader; patrolling married quarters; fatal casualties to the regimental cricket team from a nail bomb; fatalities during an attempt to burn out EOKA in hiding; the reaction of civilians to chopping down trees as a consequence of the nail bomb incident; the attitude of troops towards EOKA; the EOKA use of nail bombs on window sills; and his deployment to Kuwait to counter the Iraqi threat in 1958.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Finigan, Thomas
interview:  1993 February 01
3 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-06-23 09:45:33
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