Frederick William Hordern (Fred) MATTHEWS DCM

MATTHEWS, Frederick William Hordern

Service Number: 21
Enlisted: 22 March 1915
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 6th Machine Gun Company
Born: Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia, 1890
Home Town: Heidelberg, Banyule, Victoria
Schooling: Melbourne C of E Grammar School; Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Engineer
Died: Killed In Action, France, 8 November 1916
Cemetery: AIF Burial Ground, Grass Lane, Flers
X L 2
Memorials: Heidelberg War Memorial, Melbourne Grammar School WW1 Fallen Honour Roll
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

22 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, 24th Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement Private, 21, 24th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '14' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Euripides embarkation_ship_number: A14 public_note: ''
10 May 1915: Embarked Private, 21, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Melbourne
11 Aug 1916: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, '(Pozieres) Conspicuous gallantry and valuable services in maintaining gun in action under heavy bombardment. Also distinguished himself at Armentieres.' Recommendation date: 11 August 1916
8 Nov 1916: Involvement Second Lieutenant, 6th Machine Gun Company, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 6th Australian Machine Gun Company awm_rank: Second Lieutenant awm_died_date: 1916-11-08

Help us honour Frederick William Hordern Matthews's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

FREDERICK WILLIAM HORDERN MATTHEWS who was killed in action in France on 8th November 1916 was the eldest son of Mr. G. F. Matthews. He was born in 1890 and entered the School in 1904. Leaving in 1906 he was apprenticed to the Austral Otis Company having decided to become an engineer. Subsequently he joined Howard, Smith & Co. in order to secure his marine engineer's ticket, and was engineer on s.s. "Aeon."

He resigned to enlist, and saw service on Gallipoli in the 24th Battalion, when he was severely wounded, all at his machine gun being shot down. He was recommended for the D.C.M. and was invalided to Malta, where the doctors wanted to send him back to Australia, as they feared he would never walk again; but he persuaded them to let him go to England, where, after an
operation, which included the removal of a bone, and eight months' treatment, he recovered and was able to rejoin the 6th Brigade Machine Gun Co. to which he had been transferred. He had only been back with his two brothers in France for two days in July when he was out with a party in an advanced position anc4 German
artillery fire was directed on them. Sergeant Matthews, as he then was, was with another man at his gun when a shell burst in the trench where his brothers were and the remainder of the party were resting, and the whole of them were killed save one officer who was seriously wounded. Sergeant Matthews remained at his gun and an infantry attack speedily followed. He waited until the foremost of
the Germans were within about 50 yards of the trench, when he opened fire on them and mowed them down in swathes. So deadly was the fire that most of the survivors turned and fled. Some, however, held up their hands in surrender, and Sergeant Matthews, with the aid of his mate, first taking care that they were disarmed, took them prisoners. For his coolness and courage, which saved the
important position which was attacked, Sergeant Matthews was Mentioned in Despatches and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

He was on 22nd September 1916 awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for "conspicuous gallantry during operations;
he kept his gun in action during a heavy bombardment in advance of the infantry line; he dug out some of his detachment who had been buried by a shell and during the night he kept up his fire, though a party of the enemy were about 30 yards away."

He was killed during the fighting at Flers. A brother-officer
writes of him : "I can't express on paper what we think of him ; he has faced the death of his two brothers with a steel heart, and has never given in once. All of us marvel at the bravery with which he has faced this great blow, and men right through the brigade are remarking what a fine fellow he is. Well he is more than that, he is a brave soldier and a man. At present he is Acting-Sergeant in place
of our other Sergeant who was wounded at the same time as Fred's two brothers were killed. Fred Matthews went down to Armentieres the other day and had the satisfaction of finding his brothers buried in a neat little cemetery just behind the line." As might have been expected, Fred Matthews made little of what he had done.
In writing to his parents of the honor he had gained he said : "I do not know what it is for, as I have never done anything wonderful. I have had some pretty difficult work to do but it had to be done, so there was nothing to make a fuss over, especially as everyone is doing the same here If one has a few minutes to spare up in the Pozieres front he can look round and see dozens of medals earned
which are never awarded. Our company got one Military Cross, one D.C.M. and nine Military Medals, so you see the powers that be think a good deal of us. We look on these things more as an indication of what the authorities think of our unit as a whole." The record of, Fred Matthews is one of which we are all proud.


Biography contributed by Rob Newland

KIA event Details

On 8 November 1916, the gun crew of the 6th Machine Gun Company AIF were showing 2nd Lieutenant Frederick William Hordern Matthews DCM the lay of the land, 50 yards, (46 metres) west of Factory Corner, Ligny Thilloy, one mile north of Flers, Somme, France. The Germans would have a ‘Five Minute of Madness’s’ of bombardment which the two gun crews were caught in during the relief of No.3 section by the No.2 section led by 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Lindsay (Lin) Newland.

Killed by the enemy shell were:

2nd  Lieutenant Alfred Lindsay (Lin) Newland; service number 656, from Laverton, Victoria.

2nd Lieutenant Frederick William Hordern Matthews DCM; service number 21, from Heidelberg, Victoria.

Sergeant James William Taylor; service number 457, from Shepparton, Victoria.

Private Herbert Buckley; service number 94, from Kerang, Victoria.

Private Arthur Francis Anders; service number 1280 late 454, from Deniliquin, NSW.

Private Edmond Rodda service number 525, Daylesford, VIC was wounded in the bombing.

            This was Mathews third and final bombing that he had experienced when he was killed. He had won his DCM by digging out his fallen comrades including his two brothers whilst continuing to fire his Lewis gun during a previous bombing which he survived.

            After Private Edmond Rodda recovered from a gunshot wound to his right buttock received during the ‘five minutes of Madness’s’ on the 8th November, he joined the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion during 1917 as a driver and returned to Australia in 1919.

            All the lost men are buried next to each other in Plot 10 Row L, from grave 1 to 5 at the A.I.F. Burial Ground, Grass Lane Cemetery, Gueudecourt, Somme, France; not far from where they fell at Factory Corner where the original grave was marked shortly after the event.

                Source:    National Archives of Australia Soldier Records and 6th MCG Diaries “In Good Company: The 6th Machine Gun Company AIF” Author: W. A. Carne  

Werribee Shire Banner Thursday 30 November 1916, page 2

Compiled by Rob J Newland