Clement Stanley (Stan) MATTHEWS

MATTHEWS, Clement Stanley

Service Number: 47820
Enlisted: 31 March 1942
Last Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Last Unit: No. 78 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Port Pirie, South Australia, 3 April 1923
Home Town: Koongawa, Wudinna, South Australia
Schooling: Koongawa Primary School, South Australia
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: 17 December 2011, aged 88 years, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Wudinna Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Bute District Council WW2 Roll of Honor, Bute War Memorial Garden, Waddikee Rock Honor Roll
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World War 2 Service

31 Mar 1942: Involvement 47820
31 Mar 1942: Enlisted Adelaide
31 Mar 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, 47820
24 May 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, 47820, No. 78 Squadron (RAAF)
Date unknown: Involvement

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

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Stan Matthews, born in Port Pirie, was the eldest child of Victor and Myrtle Matthews who moved to Section 10 of Koongawa in 1928. He attended the Koongawa Primary School, leaving after completing his Qualifying Certificate, and like most of the men in the area he worked on the family farm. He played cricket and tennis, and football for the Waddikee Rovers.

Stan was keen to join the RAAF and applied in January 1942. He had references from Mr Chapman and Mr Cook (a JP from Kyancutta) attesting to his ‘moral Courage and Suitability’. He finally heard from the RAAF in March and went to Adelaide for testing and interviews. He was a month short of his 19th birthday and required parental permission to join the RAAF.

Once in Adelaide he underwent various written and oral tests. Like the other Waddikee Rock ‘boys’ trying to get into the RAAF, Stan was judged predominantly on his educational levels. Although one of the examiners suggested he was only suitable for ‘some trades with strict training and discipline’, another was less judgmental and stated that ‘his aptitude tests balance[d] his lack of trade knowledge’. Common sense prevailed and Stan was approved to join the air force with the rank of Aircraftsman. He signed the Oath of Enlistment on 31 March 1942 and gave his next of kin as his father, farm hand as his occupation, and Church of Christ as his religion.

Stan was first posted to 4STT, the RAAF School of Technical Trades in Adelaide, until June 1942. Following this he went to 1 Engineering School at Ascot Vale in the Melbourne Showgrounds as a Trainee Group 1 Fitter and Trainee Flight Mechanic. At the conclusion of this training, in September 1942, Stan was posted to 2 Operational Training Unit in Mildura. This was a training area for pilots located on the modern day Mildura Airport site.

While he was at Mildura he had leave home and attended a dance in his honour at the Waddikee Rock Hall. An article in the Port Lincoln Times of 15 October 1942 reported that Stan was one of the youngest men in the district to enlist. He was led by Mr Walter through a guard of honour after which various locals from sporting clubs wished him luck and presented him with a wrist watch and a parcel of woollies. Stan had leave without pay in November and December 1942 which would probably have been to allow him to go home over the harvest season.

After being promoted to Leading Aircraftsman, Stan was posted in July 1943 to 78 Squadron. This was a Fighter Squadron of predominantly Kittyhawk Aircraft located at Camden in New South Wales. In October the squadron moved to Kiriwina Island off the coast of New Guinea. Here Stan would probably have met up with Cyril Moxon who was there from December 1943.

The airfield on Kiriwina was built by the American Army in July 1943 and used by both RAAF and American Air Force planes. Stan’s squadron participated in attacks on enemy targets and provided escort duty for American Liberator bombers. There would have been plenty of work for Stan and his mates.

The Squadron moved to Nadzab on the New Guinea mainland in January 1944 where Stan caught up with his old school friend Moss Darby. Here the planes bombed Japanese supply dumps prior to ground forces attacking, as well as providing escort support for heavy bomber aircraft. According to Australian War Memorial records ‘a total of 368 sorties were flown in February 1944’. No doubt this kept the Flight Mechanics very busy.

The Squadron was on the move again in March and April 1944, firstly to the island of New Britain and then back onto the mainland at the Tadji Airfield at Aitape. The squadron planes took part in bombing raids on enemy sites as well as armed reconnaissance flights. Stan moved again in May 1944 when the Squadron relocated to Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea (now Jayapura in West Papua). Here the Squadron was involved in providing support to American ground troops landing on Wadke and Biak Islands off the north-west Papuan coast. After moving again in July 1944, Stan was on Noemfoor Island before a further move to Morotai in December. The squadron was involved in bombing raids on Japanese ground troops as well as enemy-held airfields. They also provided support to American ground troops.

Morotai was to be the squadron’s longest posting, and it was from here that Stan left to travel back to Australia. His father had been requesting that the RAAF release his son to allow him to come home and help on the farm as his father required an operation for a medical condition and there was no other labour available. Stan had leave without pay when he arrived back in Australia and was finally discharged from the RAAF on 24 May 1945.

He came back to Koongawa in April and attended a welcome home dance at the Waddikee Rock Hall with fellow LAC Moss Darby. It was after coming home to the family farm that Stan met the young schoolteacher, Ethne Foster, who had been boarding with his family from the beginning of 1945. Stan and Ethne were married on July 24 1947 at the Waddikee Rock Hall, and purchased Sections 25 and 26 of Cootra in the same year. They had three daughters and one son, and eventually retired to live in Wudinna. Stan was a keen bowler and a Life Member of the Wudinna Bowls Club. 

When he was serving in New Guinea, Stan had jokingly told his fellow Squadron members that he was from Kyancutta, a town with three pubs. Because of this he was known as the ‘Kyancutta Kid’. It was not until a chance encounter with a fellow member of 78 Squadron, who was travelling though Eyre Peninsula in the 1990s, that the real truth was discovered. As locals well know there are no pubs in Kyancutta and there never have been!

Stan was a member of the Kyancutta RSL and he also kept in touch with West Coast mates from 78 Squadron. He attended a reunion of the squadron at Camden in 1995 when the squadron and its men were presented with a Distinguished Unit Citation from the American Ambassador. His family still have his service medals.
Stan died in 2011 and is buried in the Wudinna Cemetery.

Courtesy of Judith Long