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Hugh was born in Wolverhampton in 1889, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Finlan. In 1901 they were living at 8 Zoar Street, Wolverhampton, together with Hugh’s brothers John and James, and sister, Elizabeth. He married Florence E. Sweet in Wolverhampton in 1912, and they had four children – Florence H., Vera A., Dennis and James A. – between 1913 and 1924.

Hugh enlisted with the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 7952) and became a Sergeant. He first served on 12 August 1914. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, as mentioned in the London Gazette on 17 June 1918. He was later awarded the Military Medal, which appeared in the Gazette on 16 July 1918. A small article appeared in the “Local & District News” of the Express & Star on 15 July 1918, which read the following:

Sergeant Hugh Finlan, South Staffords, whose home is at 61, Baker-street, Wolverhampton, has won the Military Medal for taking ammunition and bombs to the front line of trenches, and forming a dump within 150 yards of the front line trenches under heavy bombardment and shell fire. Sergeant Finlan has also been awarded the M.S.M. He was a reservist when war broke out. He left England with the first B.E.F. He was employed at Mander Brothers, John-street, before the war.

Hugh survived the war, and died in Wolverhampton in 1948.