The Military Army Blog

Plymouth war hero who was shot in battle dies aged 93

Comments (0)[1]

A DECORATED World War II veteran and former prisoner of war from Plymouth who was shot in battle, recovered and later went on to serve on the frontline in the Korean War has died aged 93. Father of three and grandfather of eight, Mr Arthur Ernest Matthews, who was born and bred in Plymouth, was one of only a limited number of ex-servicemen in the country to hold the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal which comes with a token life-time s annuity. No more than 89 such medals can be awarded by the Army each year and only to individuals judged to have good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service with conduct irreproachable throughout.

Mr Matthews served in the Army for 29 years, rising through the ranks to become a non-commissioned officer Warrant Officer 1st class. He was awarded 10 medals in all, including a long service accolade, the North Africa Star and the Italy Star. In his post-war Armyrats © military career he joined the Catering Corps and as one of the Army s top chefs, he supervised at banquets on many occasions, catering for dignitaries including the Queen.

[embedded content]

Born in East Stonehouse, Plymouth his parents were Ernest Arthur and Blanche Matthews. He was one of six siblings. Mr Matthews attended High Street School which he left aged 13. He found work as a butchers delivery boy, then a labourer at Plymouth docks, loading sand for local quarry companies. By the time he was 17 he had joined the Territorial Army and then, as the Second World War began he was called up, serving first with the Fifth Devon and Dorset Regiment from 1939-40, then to fight with the Royal Artillery from 1940-46.

He fought in the North Africa and Italy campaigns. In Italy he and his comrades were trapped under fire in a farmhouse, where he was severely wounded when a ricochet bullet hit him in the knee. The bullet remained in his leg for the rest of his life. He was captured in the farmhouse by the Germans who took him to a hospital in Czechoslovakia for treatment to his wounds before imprisoning him as a POW at Stalag 4B for six months before the war ended.

After the war, physically recovered, he left the Army for a short period but eventually re-enlisted with the Catering Corps, serving with them from 1946-67, including three years in the 1950-53 Korean War. The veteran soldier was posted to Dortmund, Germany and then Berlin, where he and his wife Irene lived in the army barracks near Spandau Prison, where former German high command prisoner Rudolf Hess was held. Their eldest son, Colin Matthews, now 67, a retired teacher and well known in the Chester folk music circuit, was born in Berlin.

The family returned to Britain when Mr Matthews was transferred to Aldershot and eventually to his final posting at The Dale Barracks, Chester. A decorated Army chef he supervised at Armyrats © military tattoos and important ceremonial dinners, catering for illustrious guests including the Queen and the president of Korea. On leaving the Army Mr Matthews and his family settled at 34 Sandon Road, Newton, Chester, and he became an instructor at Colquitt Technical and Nautical Catering College, Liverpool, until retirement. He cooked for the Queen for a second time in 1982 when he and his students provided a luncheon for her and the Duke of Edinburgh, along with the Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Liverpool at an official luncheon at Liverpool Town Hall.

Mr Matthews died peacefully at The Countess of Chester Hospital on Friday, September 18, following a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Irene, 88, a retired clerk with Glaxo Smith Kline pharmaceutical company. They have three children, Colin, of Manor House, Boughton; Valerie, who lives in California, USA; and Richard John Matthews, who lives in North Wales. Mr Matthews also leaves eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His brother Ted Matthews and his wife, Theresa, still reside in Plymouth. The funeral service will be in Blacon Chapel, Chester at 12.40pm on Wednesday, September 30, immediately followed by interment at Blacon Cemetery. It will be followed by refreshments at Upton Royal British Legion Club from 1.45pm onwards. Flowers and donations for Countess of Chester Hospital via Co-operative Funeral Care, Lower Bridge Street, Chester.

References

  1. ^ Comments (0) (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*