Ian George MATHERS

MATHERS, Ian George

Service Number: 2794496
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 12 Field Regiment
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 3 January 1949
Home Town: Corinda, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Brisbane Grammar School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed in Action, South Vietnam, 7 June 1971, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Mount Thompson Memorial Gardens & Crematorium, Queensland
Columbarium 12 - Section 23 - Niche 52,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bowen War Memorial, Grafton Clarence Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Kallangur Vietnam Veterans' Place, Port Pirie Vietnam Veterans Honour Wall, Seymour Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk Roll of Honour
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Vietnam War Service

24 Dec 1970: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Second Lieutenant, 2794496, 4th Field Regiment
24 Dec 1970: Involvement 2794496
8 Mar 1971: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Second Lieutenant, 2794496, 12 Field Regiment
8 Mar 1971: Involvement 2794496

Ian Mathers Story

Ian Mathers' Story (Final version)
Last Post Ceremony 24th April 2021
Refer: http://www.3rar.com.au/supportkia.html#igm

(2794496 2Lt Ian George Mathers - Royal Australian Artillery)


Ian George Mathers was born in Brisbane Queensland, on 3rd January 1949 to George and Olive Mathers. His father George, a Scottish immigrant, was at the time a serving member of the Royal Australian Air Force, having enlisted shortly before the outbreak of World War Two.

Ian grew up in the suburb of Corinda, where his sporting interests included rugby union, swimming and squash. He also had a great passion for singing.

Educated at Brisbane Grammar School, Ian's daily journey to and from school took him past St John's Cathedral. At an early age he decided he wanted to join the choir boys in their flowing black and white robes. He made the grade, was good, and in the afternoons, he went straight from school to the cathedral for choir practice. By the time Ian was 14, because of his likeable personality and superb voice, he was head chorister. Then his voice broke and he concentrated on his schoolwork, but he returned to the cathedral often to pray and see his friends.

Ian was a young man by the time he matriculated and gained admission to Sydney University to study economics. Initially residing in St Paul’s Residential College, he later moved into a share house in Mitchell Street, Greenwich. Whilst studying, Ian held a cadetship with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, but whenever time permitted, he would return to Brisbane to see his family and visit the cathedral. A keen rugby union fan, Ian both played the game for the Sydney University Rugby Club and gained his refereeing credentials.

Ian was called up for National Service at age 20, and after a deferment to complete his university studies, he entered the Army in January 1970. He was selected for officer training and successfully completed the gruelling six-months course at the Scheyville Officer Training Unit near Windsor in NSW and was allocated to the Royal Australian Artillery. Amongst his fellow officer cadets, Ian was affectionately known as "007", as his ever-present sunglasses and generally suave demeanour lent themselves to such a complimentary nickname.

Now 2Lt Mathers; Ian underwent a further four months of extensive training as a junior Artillery Officer at the Army School of Artillery at Sydney's North Head. He trained both to command an artillery section and to act as a Forward Observer attached to an Infantry Company. Following this, he undertook Battle Efficiency training at the Army's Jungle Training Centre at Canungra in Queensland.

Ian was granted two weeks leave in early December 1970 and was thus able to enjoy an early Christmas with family and friends. On Christmas Eve 1970, less than 12 months after joining the Army and two weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, 2Lt Mathers landed in South Vietnam to join 12 Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery.

During the Battle of Long Khahn in June 1971, Mathers was the artillery Forward Observer attached to B Company of the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. Early in the morning of June 7, elements of the North Vietnamese Army moved closer to B Company so as to avoid the artillery fire that 2Lt Mathers was bringing down on them. Realising the need to move back, as he attempted to do so Mathers received a gunshot to the chest, killing him instantly.

Back in Australia the newspapers dutifully recorded the death of 2Lt Ian George Mathers - the 401st Australian serviceman, and the 8th National Service Army Officer, to die in that war.

Ian Mathers' funeral was conducted in his beloved St John’s Cathedral Brisbane. The local Courier Mail newspaper reported that on the flag-draped lid of his coffin, the present head chorister, a boy of another decade, laid his medallion of office. Mathers' cap and sword, in correct military fashion, were already there.

The sacrifice that 2Lt Ian George Mathers made is commemorated at the Mt Thompson Cemetery in Brisbane and at the AWM. He was 22 years old.

Information above sourced from:

• Article in 'The Courier Mail' newspaper by Chris Black (mid-June 1971).

• 1OTU Scheyville graduation record for Class 1/70 (15th July 1970).

• 'Command in Vietnam' by Col FP Scott (Slouch Hat Publications 2007).

• Service Records of 2Lt Mathers (Series # B2458, Barcode # 9547086).

• Personal interviews with ex-Army colleagues of 2Lt Mathers.

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