Gunner 78971 Thomas Matthews

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Further picture at the bottom of this page.

Killed in Action on Sunday, 6th October 1918, age 27.
Buried in Grave I. B. 1. at Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery, Nord, France.

Royal Horse Artillery, 14th Brigade, 400th Battery.

Son of Mrs Selina Matthews, of 12, Toll End Rd., Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Chester, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 11th July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/336958/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
155 Toll End Road, Tipton, Staffs.
John Matthews (46, Iron Worker, born West Bromwich), his wife Selina (45, born Dudley), and their 6 children: Lilly E. (21, Dressmaker, born West Bromwich), Emma (19, Free Press Printing, born Tipton), Edward (16, Tube Worker, born Tipton), John (13, Tube Worker, born Tipton), Thomas (11, born Tipton), and George (6, born Tipton).

1911 Census
229 Toll End Road, Tipton, Staffs.
John Matthews (56, Rougher at Rolling Mill, born Tipton), his wife Selina (54, House Duties, born Pensnett), and 2 of their 7 children: Thomas (21, Tube Screwer, born Tipton), and George (16, LNW Railway Servant and Porter, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Thomas moved from Tipton to Connah's Quay, north west of Chester, at some time after 1911. He worked at John Summers and Sons, an Iron and Steel Producer in Shotton. He most likely enlisted with the Royal Artillery during 1914, as he landed in France in July 1915.

His Medal Index Card suggests he was initially a Shoeing Smith Corporal, the senior shoeing-smith in a battery. He seems to have given up this specialist role in March 1916 at his own request, and reverted to the rank of Gunner.

After Thomas's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £11/6/11d (11 pounds, 6 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his mother, Selina, in February and April 1919. His War Gratuity was £17/10/0d (17 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his mother in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Thomas had enlisted in approximately February 1915.

Action resulting in his death

400th Battery (R.F.A.) was involved in the Battle of Cambrai from 8th - 9th October 1918. Thomas was killed on the 6th October, suggesting that he was killed in the days of preparation before this battle began, possibly from German counter-battery fire. An article in the Tipton Herald of 2nd November 1918 reports a letter to Thomas's parents saying that Thomas was stuck by a splinter from a long-range shell whilst working in the wagon lines.

Thomas is buried at Flesquieres Hill Cemetery, and is also commemorated on the Tipton WW1 Memorial, his parent's grave in Tipton cemetery, Connah's Quay and Shotton WW1 War Memorial, and on the Memorial Plaque in St.Mark's Church, Connah's Quay.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 2nd November 1918
S.S. (Shoeing Smith) T. MATTHEWS
Mrs Matthews of 12 Toll End Road, Tipton, has received the intelligence that her son, S.S. T. Matthews, 14th Brigade, R.F.A., has made the supreme sacrifice. His Captain in the field writes that the deceased was struck in the head and instantly killed by a splinter from one of the enemy's long-range shells. At the moment of his death, he was quietly at work in the wagon lines, doing his duty in the same unobtrusive way that always distinguished him. He had no pain, nor even any knowledge of the danger that approached him. He was buried in a ruined French village southwest of Cambrai, called Flesquieres.
The officer adds: - "He was always happy and appreciated from the day when he first joined us. He has done his work willingly and well. He was always cheerful and ready to help in a hundred different ways that were not within the scope of his strict duty, and we can ill afford to lose such men. He will be greatly missed. This is, I fear, cold comfort for the loss of a son, but you may be justly proud of him and of the way he lived and died."
Two other letters of condolence were also received, one from his sergeant and one from his comrades, in which they paid eulogistic tributes to the worth of their friend.
Deceased, who was 27 years of age, was up to joining, engaged at the works of Messrs John Summers and Sons, Harwarden Bridge, Shotton, Chester. He attended the New Connexion Sunday School, Great Bridge, and was for a number of years a scholar at St. Martin's Early Morning School, Tipton. He was greatly respected in the neighbourhood.

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Commemorated on his parent's grave, Tipton Cemetery.