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Oral history interview with Thomas Finigan

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

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    Oral history interview with Thomas Finigan


    Interview Summary
    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.
    Thomas Finigan
    interview:  1993 February 01

    Physical Details

    3 sound cassettes (90 min.).

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use. Permission to copy and/or use recordings in any production must be granted by the Imperial War Museums.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Finigan, Thomas.

    Administrative Notes

    Holder of Originals
    Imperial War Museum
    The interview was conducted by the Imperial War Museum as part of their retrospective oral history interview program. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired a copy of the interview with Thomas Finigan from the Imperial War Museum in February 1995.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:17:19
    This page:

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