William Henry Finney
William Henry Finney, Private First Class, U.S. Army, 17010871, 59th Coast Artillery Regiment. Entered the Service from Kansas. Died: October 24, 1944. Missing in Action or Buried at Sea. Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. Awards: Purple Heart. (ABMC)
He was the son of Walter Finney and Ida May Ross, who were married in Alva, Oklahoma, on January 6, 1897. They raised six sons and four daughters. "My brothers, Lee Leslie, Carl and Earl all worked in the Coldwater area as farm hands and Earl worked at the elevator in Coldwater. Brother Robert joined the army and was stationed at Fort Riley and made a march from there to Brownsville, Texas as part of his training. He later served in World War II in France, Germany and others (sic) Earl also served in World War II in the European area; Leslie served in the armed forces in India. Bill also joined the army. After training, he was sent to the Philippines, served in the war with Japan and died in service for his county." -- Elida Finney Uselman, CCH, p. 376. (ABMC, CCH, CCVM, DJHSP)
The Western Star, May 21, 1943.
Major General J. A. Ulio of the U. S. Army wrote Mrs. Ida A. Finney of Coldwater on May 8, 1943, that on that date one year had elapsed since the fall of Bataan on May 8, 1942; that her son, Pfc. Wm. Finney, gunner in the Coast Guard Artillery Corps, was last seen May 7, also that he has the continued status of missing in action. "With any change in his status you will be notified immediately." Major Ulio wrote. (SB)
The Western Star , June 18, 1943.
PFC. WM. FINNEY ALIVE IN PHILIPPINES
For a Year He Was Thought to Have Been Killed.
Mrs. Ida M. Finny of Coldwater received a telegram Thursday morning from the War Department regarding the latest information about her son, Pfc. William Finney, who was a gunner with the Coast Artillery Corps at Corregidor, Bataan Peninsula, at the time the Philippine Islands fell to the Japanese on May 8, 1942. He was reported missing in action by the War Department. The telegram follows: "Report just recived through International Red Cross states that your son, Private First Class William H. Finney, is a prisoner of war of the Japanese Government in the Philippine Islands. Letter of information follows from Provost Marshall General.
MAJ. GEN. J. A. ULIO, The Adjutant General." (SB)
The Western Star, May 25, 1945
PFC. WM. H. FINNEY LIBERATED FROM JAPS.
Was In Corregidor When It Fell Three Years Ago.
On Wednesday of this week Mrs. Ida Finney of Coldwater received a card from her son, Pfc. William H. Finney, who was a member of the U. S. Coast Artillery which was on Corregidor in the Philippine Islands when it fell to the Japanese on May 6, 1942.
The card is one furnished by the Japanese government as a service to prisoners of war and was from the Philippine Prison Camp No. 4. It was passed by U. S. censor No. 11,014 and bore the following information.
1. I am interned at Philippine Prison Camp No. 4.
2. My health is good.
3. "Dear Mother: Received letter June '43 on March '44. Also received package. Was surely glad to hear from you. Glad that everything is O.K. I am fine and hope to be home soon. If you send more packages send something to eat and plenty of it. Love, William H. Finney"
Pfc. Finney enlisted in the Army in the fall of 1941 and after only brief training was sent to the Philippines. He was taken prisoner by the Japs and was permitted to send home two cards while in prison camp, the last one reaching here 22 months ago. At that time his health was said to be only fair.
When Bill was not found in any of the Jap prison camps previously liberated by the Americans after the invasion of the Philippines it was feared that he had been taken to Japan or Manchuria.
His many friends here will rejoice with his relatives that he is still alive and in apparently in now in U. S. hands. (SB)
The Western Star, February 11, 1944.
AN OPEN LETTER TO PFC. BILL FINNEY, JAP PRISONER
(Editor's note - The Star is reprinting, by request, an editorial which was published in its issue of September 17, 1943, during the Third War Loan Drive. In view of the announcement last week by the government of the unspeakable and inhumane treatment of the American Prisoners on Bataan by the Japanese, the editorial now takes on a new meaning. We are informed that the article was used by some solicitors at Protection as they made a house-to-house canvass during the last bond drive.)
With another big War Bond drive on, we've been thinking a lot about you lately - wondering how you are faring as a prisoner of the Japs. You "joined up" early in the game to help guard the interests of your country-our country-and you were sent to the Philippines.
When the Japs closed in on Bataan, which is so near them and so far from our bases, you and your buddies stuck to your big, smoking coast artillery guns until the last pack mule was eaten. You waited, in vain, for the help that never came-"too little, too late." But your General McArthur, after his perilous flight by P-T boat to another base, pledged that you gallant lads will some day be liberated. That pledge will be kept.
We here at Coldwater thought for over a year that you were dead, as you were reported among the missing. How thrilled we all were when the War Department, through the Red Cross finally announced a Japanese prisoner of war in the Philippines.
Then when we hear that these strapping Kansas lads and others - boys from Satanta, Sublette, Kiowa, LaCrosse - one out of every ten Japanese prisoners have died in prison camps, our hearts sink at what you are likely going through - scanty clothing for damp, chilly winds, thin soup, six ounces of rice daily, little medicine, no letters from home, and your constant, day-after-day staring at stockade fences, with never a word but that Japs and Germans are taking everything and sinking all our ships.
Bill, it makes the folks here at home mad as hornets, and we wonder what we can do about it. Then we realize all at once that the BEST thing we can do to release you and our other boys in Japanese and German prison camps is to provide the money which will give our fighting men EVERYTHING they need to bring the war to an early close-more and faster planes, more ships, more guns, more food, more hospitals and medicine.
When Italy was forced to throw in the sponge, 1200 Americans who had been captured by the Italians in North Africa and Sicily were released, and you'll be freed some day.
It seems only yesterday that you were a barefoot, tow headed kid walking along the tracks to the wagon bridge west of town for a swim or to catch your first fish-a little perch that looked like a whale to you. You know, Bill, there's a lot of Coldwater boys, even lieutenants, who would give three moths' salary for that sweet privilege now, for money isn't worth anything in a foxhole, on an African desert or on any battlefront. But money counts for a lot here at home where every dollar invested in war bonds means saving lives by shortening the war by that many minutes. Bill, there are a few people here who have no youngsters in the war and who wouldn't think of having some one else pay for their wife's wedding ring or anniversary present, or for the flowers they order for their family. Yet they seem content to let the other fellow pay for the protection of our boys in the service and for carrying on the war. They have not suffered the loss of crops from incendiary bombs and when they wake up in the morning, all their buildings and property are just like it was before-because of the protection which our government gives them.
It's a funny thing, Bill, but folks don't have much interest in a thing. But if Comanche county happened to be located in Poland, Austria, Holland or France, the Germans would demand-and GET-the $300,000 which our folks are asked to INVEST, not give-in War Bonds. And they'll get one third extra in interest.
Some day, Bill, when there's peace, you boys are coming back to the Old Home Town and the America you love, and your kids, likewise, will go fishing and play marbles by the telephone office and lick at heaping ice cream cones, and use the folks who backed you to the limit-until it hurt-can look you squarely in the eye and say, "We did our dead level best; we didn't fail you when you needed help."
Your mother, Mrs. Finney, with four sons in the army - Bob in India, "Bud" in Africa or Italy, Earl in Texas, and you a prisoner - is carrying on bravely, a lot better, perhaps, than some who have only one of their children in uniform. You know, Bill, there are still some folks who look at you sort of queer when you tell them that it is a PRIVILEGE, not a duty, for a fellow or his children to don a uniform when his country needs help.
God give you strength to keep body and soul together in a land where only Japanese can be spoken: where every man must kneel to the Nipponese. They're getting away with it now there, but take heart, the Yanks are coming! And our people here at home will not fail you.
THE WESTERN STAR
The Western Star, June 29, 1945.
PFC. WM. H. FINNEY DIES ABOARD JAP SHIP
Was Being Taken From Manila When U. S. Sub Sinks Ship.
The uncertainty of life, especially during time of war, was brought home forcibly to our people on Thursday of last week when it was learned that Pfc. Wm. H. Finney's mother, Mrs. Ida M. Finney of Coldwater, had received word from the War Department that he was lost at sea last October when the Japanese prisoner of war ship which was taking prisoners from the Philippines to Japanese held possessions in the South China Sea was sunk by an American submarine, not knowing that the ship carried American prisoners.
The letter to Mrs. Finney follows:
Dear Mrs. Finney,
The International Red Cross transmitted to this Government an official list obtained from the Japanese Government after long delay of American prisoners of war who were lost while being transported northward from the Philippine Islands on a Japanese ship which was sunk on 24 October, 1944. It is with deep regret that I inform you that your son, Private First Class William H. Finney, 17010871, Coast Artillery Corps, was among those lost when that sinking occurred and in the absence of any probability of survival must be considered to have lost his life. He will be carried on the records of the War Department as killed in action 24 October, 1944. The evidence of his death was received 16 June, 1945, the date upon which his pay will terminate and his accounts will be closed.
The information available to the War Department is that the vessel sailed from Manila, Philippine Islands, on 11 October, 1944, with 1775 prisoners of war aboard. On 24 October, 1944, the vessel was sunk by submarine in the South China Sea over 200 miles from the Chinese coast which was the nearest land. Five of the prisoners escaped in a small boat and reached the coast. Four others have been reported as picked up by the Japanese, by whom all others aboard are reported lost. Absence of detailed information as to what happened to other individual prisoners and the known circumstances of the incident lead to a conclusion that all other prisoners listed by the Japanese as aboard the vessel perished.
It is with deep regret that I must notify you of this unhappy culmination of the long period of anxiety and suffering you have experienced. You have my heartfelt sympathy.
J. A. Ulio, The adjutant General of the Army."
Pfc. Finney had been in the Army since the fall of 1941 and was sent to the Philippines about six weeks after enlisting. He was on Corregidor under General Wainright as a member of the Coast Artillery when it fell to the Japanese May 6, 1942. Before the garrison fell General Wainright worked night and day to get insurance papers made out for every one of his men.
Following his capture Pfc. Finney wrote home only three cards from Japanese prison camps. The first one was received by his mother early in 1943. The second card received in July 1943, stated that he was in fair health.
For 22 months not a word was received by Mrs. Finney from Bill, then on May 23, 1945, she received a card from the Philippine Military Prison No. 4. located about 30 miles from Manila, and bearing the stamp of a U. S. military censor.
It was presumed that Pfc. Finney was liberated when the Americans reached the camp and our citizens were pleased to learn of his still being alive. However, it is now thought that the cards written by Bill and other prisoners were never mailed by the Japanese government but were found by the Americans when they came to the camp.
The foregoing letter from the War Department gives the last chapter in the life of Pfc. Finney. The sincere sympathy of the entire community goes out to the bereaved relatives.
Mrs. Finney is in receipt of the following message of condolence from General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, United States Army: "General Marshall extends his deep sympathy in your bereavement. Your son fought valiantly in a supreme hour of his country's need. His memory will live in the grateful heart of our nation."
William Henry Finney was born in Coldwater, Kansas, August 18, 1916, and died October 24, 1944, in the South China Sea at the age of 28 years, two months and six days. He attended the Coldwater schools and made many friends here.
Pfc. Finney is survived by his mother, Mrs. Ida Finney, of this city and by five brothers, Pfc. Earl Finney, now with the Seventh Army in Germany as a member of the Army of Occupation, Pfc. Bob Finney, who is also with the U. S. Medical Corps in Germany, James Leslie Finney of Coldwater, formerly with the army in India, and Carl and Lee Finney of this city. Four sisters also survive, Mrs. L. W. Uselman of Coldwater, Mrs. Oscar Carter of Hutchinson and Mrs. Riley Stalcup and Mrs. Maurice Kimberley of Great Bend. The father died October 24, 1938. (SB)
The Death of Lester Jacob DeMouth on the Jap "Hell Ship" Arisan Maru An account of another man taken prisoner by the Japs, who presumably died on the same ship as William Finney, and of the Jap's inhumane treatment of their American prisoners of war.
Roster of Men Who Died on the Arisan Maru, compiled by Bill Bowen.
Return to World War II Casualties
The above news articles were transcribed for this site by Shirley Brier. This web page was created by Jerry Ferrin on 27 March 2004; it was last updated 13 Jan 2006.