This Anzac Day sees a new section on the Clan Matheson New Zealand website about New Zealand Mathesons who served in the Second World War. Telling their stories is a large exercise, made difficult in part because the WW2 service personnel files have not yet been digitised, unlike those from WW1.
To kick this project off I’ve started with those Mathesons and Mathiesons from New Zealand and serving in the New Zealand forces who died overseas during WW2. There are 12 in all, listed on the linked page but with their individual stories told on separate pages.
Their stories are as diverse as that global conflict, and there are twists and turns in their tales. The deaths of some are somewhat mysterious, but we have a fuller account of others.
Why is someone who died in Germany commemorated in Egypt? Out of these 12, two died on the same day in the same place.
I’m grateful to those who have helped with this project, including some with family connections to the deceased. I hope I have done justice to the stories of their kin. Any further information would be welcome.
We know of 80 Mathesons who went overseas from New Zealand to fight in the First World War. They’re listed on our website, and you can now follow links from 25 of the 80 entries to find out more about some individuals.
In passing I’ve written accounts of four Mathesons who served in other countries’ armed forces during that war.
I’ve added material to the page on the clan website that contains additional information about Mathesons who served in the First World War.
Thanks to one of the publications about New Zealand Mathesons, I’ve been able to tell something of the story of twin brothers Alexander Victor Mathieson and William Alfred Mathieson and their cousin William Harper Mathieson. All three hailed from farming stock in Southland, joined up, and returned safely from the war to go back onto the land.
The Onward Project seeks to locate and publish a photograph of every member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who served overseas during the First World War of 1914-1918. Each image is captioned with the name and service number of the individual, plus a reference to the source of the photo. Three volumes in the series have been published so far, and photos are being collected for a fourth volume.
This Clan Matheson site contains quite a lot of information on Mathesons who served in the First World War, both overseas and in New Zealand. In a comment on one of the pages Christine Barbour says she’s sent the Onward Project a photo of her grandfather, Roderick Dugald Matheson, who is included in our list here. That’s a great idea, and I’d encourage others to do this too.
There’s a brief update to our page of further information about Mathesons and Mathiesons who served in the First World War. Kenneth Mathieson (listed third from the end) had lived in New Zealand and was popular in his local community. He died in the early stages of the war while serving with a British regiment.
Thanks to the sleuthing efforts of Zelda Matheson, and the resources of the Westport Genealogy and History Group, another mystery has been solved. I couldn’t work out why T A Mathieson was commemorated on the Granity war memorial on the West Coast, yet I could find out nothing about him on the Cenotaph database or at Archives New Zealand.
Thomas Alexander Mathieson from the West Coast had gone to the UK before WW1 and joined the British Army, and was killed in Belgium during the German spring offensive of 1918. He was married, and might have left children behind; we don’t know. Read more of his story in this article on the website.
War is tragic and the First World War was especially so, but it had an interesting outcome in connecting New Zealanders of Scottish descent with their ancestral homeland. A new article on this website links to a researcher’s blog post on this topic, and uses one example of this ‘roots tourism’ that was generated by WW1.
Our list of published family stories of New Zealand Mathesons has grown to six, with the addition of a new book about one person’s First World War service. ‘Answering the call: Colin Matheson in the First World War’ tells the story of the father of Doug Matheson, who was trained to fight and sent to the Western Front in the latter years of that conflict.
Researching and writing the stories of individuals or their families brings history to life, and records people’s experiences for future generations.
Clan member Zelda Matheson has been providing more material about Mathesons and Mathiesons from New Zealand who served in the First World War. On the ‘additional information’ page I’ve added death notices for brothers James Weir Matheson and Thomas Alexander Matheson, who died in Belgium (not France, as their death notices said) just two months apart in 1917.
They were sons of John and Margaret Matheson of Kennington in Southland, and grandsons of Capt James and Christina Matheson of Port Chalmers and Kakanui in Otago. The story of James and Christina, and their migration to New Zealand, is told in the book Matheson saga: a story of foresight, courage and endeavour, which is profiled elsewhere on this site.
Zelda has also sent some more information about one of the mysteries identified in the earlier article. T A Mathieson is commemorated on the Granity war memorial on the West Coast. But we still don’t know anything about him.
There’s been a lot of response to the two articles on this website about Mathesons who served overseas and in New Zealand during the First World War. People have written in with further information about some of these men, and sent photographs. I’ve managed to track down contemporary photos of many of those listed, and have researched the war service of some in my family.
All this material has generated a new article on the website. If you read to the end of if, you’ll discover two mysteries that I discovered along the way. One remains unsolved.
I’d be interested in stories or photos about any of the men or the one woman in our lists.