Name: George Matthews
1895 - 9th July 1918
Place of Birth: Arlesey
Occupation: Dairy Assistant
Division: 2nd Battalion
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment
Rank: Lance Corporal
Buried: II. E. 7, Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-Les-Pernois, Somme, France
Person(s) placing the cross on behalf of the Arlesey Remembers You Project: Letchworth Garden City Choir
George was the eldest son of Thomas and Sarah Matthews. He was born in Arlesey in 1895 and lived on Primrose Lane with his 3 sisters (Rachel, Emma and Mable) and 3 brothers (Bertie, William and Eddie). In 1911 he was working as a dairy assistant, and was later employed by the Arlesey (Bearts) Brick Company.
George enlisted in the Territorial Forces at a special recruiting concert held at Three Counties Asylum in June 1914, and at the outbreak of war was called up and served in the Dardanelles.
George was posted to Gallipoli with his battalion on 10th August 1915, where he was wounded during their first battle on 15th /16th August when a bullet penetrated his liver. The bullet was never removed!
Thomas and Sarah received a telegram on Wednesday 3rd July 1918 stating that George was dangerously wounded in France. A second telegram followed on the Thursday saying that his condition was no better. The telegrams were followed by two letters, written by Corporal A.J. Tilson, that were dated 5th July: “Dear Mrs Matthews, your boy, Lance Corporal Matthews, 2nd Bedfords, has asked me to tell you that he is a patient in hospital suffering from shell wound in chest and shoulder. He is seriously wounded, but is very brave and patient, and we hope and pray that with God’s blessing he will progress towards recovery, and soon be well enough to me moved perhaps to England. If you wish to write to him his address is 41 CCS, BEF. In deep sympathy with your anxiety, yours faithfully, A.J.Tilson (Cpl)’.
The second letter stated: “Dear Mrs Matthews, I hope my previous letter of July 5th will have somewhat prepared you for the sorrowful news I have to communicate today. Notwithstanding every care and attention on the part of the hospital staff, Lce-Cpl Matthews of the 2nd Bedfords, passed away quietly yesterday morning, and this morning I have laid his body to rest with Christian burial in the military cemetery adjoining the hospital. It will be possible for you to obtain later on a photograph of his grave by applying to DGR and E War Office, Winchester House, St James Square, London SW. May God comfort you in your sorrow.”
The matron of the hospital also wrote explaining that complications set in and George grew worse with every hour. He became unconscious in the evening and at 40 minutes past midnight he passed peacefully away. The hospitals chaplain had been with him and prayed with him in the evening.
George is remembered with honour at the Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-Les-Pernois. The cemetery was opened towards the end of April 1918, during the German advance, primarily for burials from the No 4 Casualty Clearing Station. It closed in August 1918. There are 403 Commonwealth burials in the cemetery and 17 German war graves.