D-Day hero prepares for 100th!

THIS week marks the 71st anniversary of the D-Day landings. A world changing event and long time Mojacar resident, Colonel Herbert ‘Bertie’ Finch was in the opening waves and right through with his command until he was decommissioned in 1946 when he joined the TA.
No easy task to survive, for if you rolled the dice, Bertie had an even more undesirable task, that of defusing enemy bombs.
Then, Captain Finch was right up front on D-Day, landing on ‘Gold’ beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944. His team of five would dismantle left over munitions left behind by the Germans.
Then, without hesitating a moment they moved forward to the risky business of deactivating booby-traps, tripwires, mines, and other dangerous explosives set up to stop the advancing allies.
“Not the easiest job in the world to volunteer for, especially if you get the green wire mixed up with the red one,” Bertie lightly quips today, “but it was very real then and in your face.”
Bertie’s trajectory to achieving such a position was a product of his youth. Strangely enough, his family owned a rock quarry and at a very young age he became familiar with not only electronic triggering devices, but also dynamite.
Unlike Hollywood, his landing was met with more drowning than actual fatal gunfire as the heavy equipment the men disembarked with was too weighty for them to swim after they stepped off into the deep. Personal defence was limited to a Fairbairn-Sikes Commando fighting knife, well oiled pair of pliers and the odd screwdrivers.
Observation was key to staying alive. Bertie never trained his group about any one device which stood out in particular, as each one was different and deadly. He dealt with it, moved on to the next, non-stop through the Battle of the Bulge and into Germany. Never was the team given too much leisure as the tasks required immense levels of inner concentration.
Following the war he went on to a firm of electrical engineering and rose to top management. Receiving the Territorial Decoration (TD) for past heroics and being invited by the Queen to garden parties.
To add some long needed relaxation to his life he came to Mojacar back in 1979 and bought a small apartment. When his wife passed away Bertie jumped into building a new house. Once settled here permanently he met Inga Andreasson who has been with him for the past 28 years.
He didn’t rest and also became a founder member of our local Royal British Legion.
Now Inga and Bertie are preparing their next big event, Bertie’s 100th birthday. Looking back on it all he casually remarks: “Well, I must have got something right to get here.” August 22 this year will be another well earned and deserved celebration for this unique Englishman.

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