Matthew Robson CRAVEN MM

CRAVEN, Matthew Robson

Service Number: 4030
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Sapper
Last Unit: 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
Born: Colbinaabbin, Victoria, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Auctioneer
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

25 May 1916: Involvement Sapper, SN 4030, 2nd Tunnelling Company (inc. 5th Tunnelling Company)
25 May 1916: Embarked Sapper, SN 4030, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company), HMAT Warilda, Melbourne
25 May 1916: Embarked Sapper, SN 4030, 2nd Tunnelling Company (inc. 5th Tunnelling Company), HMAT Warilda, Melbourne
25 May 1916: Involvement Sapper, SN 4030, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
30 May 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Third Ypres, The above awards were made for the undermentioned acts which took place near YPRES, SGT MOFFATT and Sapper CRAVEN. ‘At SWAN CHATEAU Sheet 28 I 14 c 35.00 on 30/5/17. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading a rescue party and extricating six men who had been overcome by enemy gas in a deep dugout. The work occupied over two hours and was carried out under heavy shellfire, and in spite of the fact that he and his party suffered severely from gas, he led them six times to the rescue, setting a magnificent example. The six men succumbed in spite of his heroic act, and he was eventually sent to hospital suffering from gas poisoning. Spr. CRAVEN assisted him throughout.’

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Matthew Robson CRAVEN

Military Medal

The above awards were made for the undermentioned acts which took place near YPRES,  SGT MOFFATT and Sapper CRAVEN.

 

‘At SWAN CHATEAU Sheet 28 I 14 c 35.00 on 30/5/17.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading a rescue party and extricating six men who had been overcome by enemy gas in a deep dugout.  The work occupied over two hours and was carried out under heavy shellfire, and in spite of the fact that he and his party suffered severely from gas, he led them six times to the rescue, setting a magnificent example.  The six men succumbed in spite of his heroic act, and he was eventually sent to hospital suffering from gas poisoning. Spr. CRAVEN assisted him throughout.’[1]

 

The Bendigo Advertiser reported on June 15, 1917 the following: ‘Mr. T. Craven, of 55 Baxter-Street, Bendigo, has received word from the Defence department that his son, Sapper M. R. Craven, of the 2nd Tunnelling Corps, is in hospital, suffering from gas poisoning.[2]

Six months later more of the story would emerge when the Bendigo Independent newspaper reported on January 1, 1918 the following: ‘Sapper Craven won his military distinction in an attempt, when responding to the call for volunteers to do the task, of rescuing two wounded comrades. It meant almost certain death, and though the attempt was successful Sapper Craven, suffering from the effects of the poisonous gas utilised by the enemy, was brought out in a critical condition. For his meritorious action he was awarded the coveted honor. [3]

Matthew Craven enlisted in Bendigo in April 1916. He was an established stock and station Auctioneer in a partnership at Craven & McKean at Cohuna, north of Bendigo. In addition to this respectable position, he was also the Captain and coach of the Cohuna Football team after a successful football stint with the South Bendigo Club.

On 6 April at Broadmeadows camp he was appointed to the No.5 Tunnelling Company and embarked at Melbourne on 25 May 1916 on board Warilda. It was a fifty-eight day uneventful voyage arriving at Plymouth, England on July 18, 1916.

Matthew would be evacuated to England for over six months treatment leaving London on 21 October on board HMAT Berrima for return to Australia with ‘chronic pericarditis, shell gas poisoning’, disembarking at Melbourne on 30 December 1917.

The Bendigonian Newspaper reported on Sapper Cravens return to Bendigo on Thursday 10 January 1918:

FOOTBALL SOLDIERS. WELCOMED HOME.

SOUTH BENDIGO CLUB'S RECORD.

Mr. James Denton proposed the health of Sapper Mat Craven, M.M. As a footballer Mat Craven played the game in a gentlemanly manner, both on the field and off, and those qualities fitted him well for a soldier.  He has had as a soldier a unique experience, and put up a bit of a record. Footballing thus stood him in good stead.  Then on 28th May last Mat Craven, together with a sergeant and a small body of men, rescued seven English Tommies and four Australians. (Applause.)  For that he received the Military Medal, and he richly deserved it.  (Applause.) They were proud that one of their footballers had gained that distinction. (Applause.)  Sapper Craven had been gassed at that same place, and had to go down.  They trusted, however, that the time was not far distant when he would regain his health, strength, and vigor.[4]

 

SERVICE DETAILS: 

Service Number: 4030

Born: Colbinabbin

Address on Enlistment: 55 Baxter Street, Bendigo

Occupation: Auctioneer

Age at Enlistment: 35

Enlistment date: 6 April 1916

Embarked: HMAT A69 Warilda on 25 May 1916

Served: Western Front

Unit name: No 4 Tunnelling Company and 1st Reinforcements (May 1916) & 2nd Tunnelling Company

Final Rank: Sapper

Fate: Returned to Australia 31 October 1917

Died: 23 May 1968 at Heidelberg, aged 87.

Military Medal Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 219

Date: 20 December 1917

 

At SWAN CHATEAU on May 30 1917.

C.E.W Bean described the battle of the tunnelers:-

'On May 31st the seven days of bombardment began. The area behind the British lines teemed with batteries and dumps, concentrated there in the past few weeks. The Germans had perceived all this, from ground an air, and under heavy shelling several dumps an ammunition train exploded. But they were completely unaware that nineteen immense mines had been tunnelled deep below their front trenches to attacked. In the two years’ tussle underground between the British and German tunnelling companies the British miners had outmanoeuvred and outfought their opponents’.[6]

[1] www.tunnellers.net, author Donna Baldey 2014                        

[2] The Bendigo Advertiser June 15, 1917 P.5                    

[3] Bendigo Independent newspaper January 1, 1918. P.5
[4] Bendigonian Newspaper, 10 January 1918:                              

[5] Australian War memorial Collection DA15512                          

 [6] Anzac to Amiens, C.E.W.Bean. Penguin Books.2014. P. 351

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