With the centenary of the First World War under way, it’s timely to look at those Mathesons from New Zealand who served overseas in the conflict.  Thanks to the excellent records now freely available in this country we are able to find out who they were, and something about their wartime experiences.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Cenotaph database lists 63 servicemen and one female nurse named Matheson who enlisted in New Zealand (or had some other New Zealand connection) and served overseas in the First World War.  There were also 16 with the name Mathieson and one each of Mathison and Mathiesen who served, but no Mathersons as far as I can find out.  There are also others who enlisted and served in New Zealand, who will be the subject of a separate article on this website.

Each of the people listed here has a page in the Cenotaph database, which contains summary information.  The pages each link to copies of individual personnel files, which have been digitised by Archives New Zealand as part of its contribution to New Zealand’s WW100 programme for the centenary of the First World War.  I’ve looked at these records, and in the two tables below I give a brief portrait of each person’s service taken from those personnel files — what they were doing when enlisted, and a short summary of their military service.

Norman McLeod Matheson

Norman McLeod Matheson

The lists paint an interesting picture of life in the young dominion of New Zealand, with a preponderance of agricultural and manual occupations.  There are only four officers — a pilot, a doctor, a nurse and a chaplain.  Of the 81 people listed 20, more than one in four, were killed in action or as a direct result of active service.  Another 23 were either wounded so badly, or got so sick, they were discharged as being no longer fit for duty.  Together that’s more than half of those who enlisted.  But the other 38 by no means had an easy war.  Their personnel files show that almost all became ill or were wounded, sometimes repeatedly.  And who knows what psychological traumas they all endured.  We can be sure that all of them were affected to some extent by their war service.

The first New Zealand military action of WW1 was the occupation of German Samoa, and two Mathesons were involved in that.  Then a fighting force was raised for the European conflict and some 8,500 men left Wellington in October 1914 as the ‘Main Body’, including four in our list.  To this day, the Main Body was the largest single military contingent to leave our shores.  It was escorted by warships from the UK and our ally Japan, and went first to Albany in Western Australia.  From there a larger convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops left on 1 November 1914, the first time the two nations had left together to go to war, and the beginning of the Anzac tradition that continues strongly to this day.  While en route to Europe the Ottoman Empire entered the war so the Anzacs (as they later became) stopped in Egypt, trained, and took part in the Gallipoli landings and the Dardanelles campaign.  Each further set of troops sent, whether to Egypt or the UK, was counted consecutively as a reinforcement.  Conscription was introduced in 1916, and reinforcements were still being sent in late 1918.

Three of my family are among the 62 servicemen: Colin Matheson (my great-uncle and the father of Chief’s Lieutenant Douglas Matheson) and two of Colin’s nephews, brothers Angus and Leslie Matheson.  In the tables I’ve identified descendants of the Highland migration to Waipu; the excellent museum at Waipu has identified over 600 descendants of the migration who served in the First World War.  I’ve also noted where next of kin were in Scotland. If you right click on a name and open in a new tab or window, you will go straight to the relevant Cenotaph record.

Lest we forget their sacrifice.

Andrew Matheson

November 2014

Updated April 2015, May 2015

 

 

Surname First names Rank last held Serial number Comments
Matheson Albert Trooper 50063 Slaughterman.  29th Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Mounted Rifle Brigade.  Served Sinai/Palestine.  Returned September 1919.
Matheson Alexander Donald Trooper 7/1098 Shepherd.  5th Reinforcements, embarked June 1915.  Canterbury Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front.  Accidentally killed on active service 9 May 1919.  Mother lived in Booth Alness, Rossshire, Scotland.
Matheson Alexander George Private 15205 Labourer.  15th Reinforcements, embarked July 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Died of wounds in France 16 November 1916. There is a short article about Alexander here.
Matheson Alexander Private 32690 Shepherd.  19th Reinforcements, embarked November 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Wounded France June 1917.  Returned to New Zealand December 1917 and discharged as no longer fit for duty.
Matheson Alexander Private 47816 Shearer.  25th Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Illness, returned November 1918 and discharged as no longer fit for duty.
Matheson Alexander Lance Corporal 22258 Farmer.  16th Reinforcements, embarked August 1916.  Otago Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand February 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.  Born in Australia, and returned there after the war.
Matheson Alister Hugh Trooper 75110 Farmer.  40th Reinforcements, embarked October 1918.  Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt.  Returned October 1919.
Matheson Angus Neil Rifleman 51407 Dredgemaster.  26th Reinforcements, embarked June 1917.  Served Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned August 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of wounds.
Matheson Angus Rifleman 62104 Shearer.  31st Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Returned April 1919.
Matheson Angus Private 44132 Shepherd.  23rd Reinforcements, embarked March 1917.  Canterbury Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action, Ypres, October 1917. Son of the late John and Annie Matheson, of Blairford, Avoch, Ross-shire, Scotland.
Matheson Angus Rifleman 24/512 Farmer.  Died in camp of measles June 1915.  Son of Alec Matheson, Leigh, Northland.  Waipu migration descendant (Spray).
Matheson Angus Lance Corporal 44759 Compositor.  24th Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned July 1919.  Cousin of Chief’s Lieutenant, Douglas Matheson.  Read more about Angus Matheson here.
Matheson Charles Private 9/1580 Labourer.  7th Reinforcements, embarked October 1915.  Otago Regiment.  Served Egypt, Western Front.  Killed in action Le Quesnoy, France, November 1918.
Matheson Colin William Private 60157 Grocer.  30th Reinforcements, embarked October 1917.  Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Wounded near Bancourt, France, August 1918.  Returned June 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of wounds received in action.  Father of Chief’s Lieutenant, Douglas Matheson.  Read more about Colin William Matheson here.
Matheson Cyrus Haskell Private 31132 Farmer.  11th Reinforcements, embarked January 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Died of wounds, Belgium, October 1917.  Parents Alexander and Mary Ann Matheson, Leigh, Northland.  Waipu migration descendant (Spray).  There is a photo of Cyrus Haskell Matheson here.
Matheson David Gordon Private 58899 Shepherd.  29th Reinforcements, embarked August 1917.  Otago Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand January 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.
Matheson Donald Munro Lance Corporal 31131 Farmer.  11th Reinforcements, embarked January 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand June 1919.  Waipu migration descendant (Ellen Lewis); note consecutive service number with Cyrus Haskell Matheson.  Brother of Kenneth Murdoch Matheson (6/3401).
Matheson Donald Murray Private 71909 Clerk.  38th Reinforcements, embarked June 1918.  Specialist Company.  UK only.  Returned to New Zealand June 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.  Read more about Donald Murray Matheson here.
Matheson Donald William Private 59404 Farmer.  29th Reinforcements, embarked August 1917.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand June 1919.  Son of Major Matheson, superintendent of Somes Island internment camp, and brother of Donald Matheson (8/2795) and Norman Murdoch Matheson (71340).  Known as William.
Matheson Donald Private 72331 Engineer.  37th Reinforcements, embarked May 1918.  Otago Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand September 1919.
Matheson Donald Private 8/2795 Chemist’s assistant.  6th Reinforcements, embarked August 1915.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Gallipoli, Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand and discharged February 1919.  Son of Major Matheson, superintendent of Somes Island internment camp.
Matheson Donald Private 8/3347 Boxmaker.  8th Reinforcements, embarked November 1915.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand March 1918 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.
Matheson Dugald George Captain 3/1278 Doctor.  8th Reinforcements, embarked November 1915.  Medical Corps.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned July 1917.  Read more about Dugald George Matheson here.
Matheson Duncan James Trooper 53224 Cheesemaker.  27th Reinforcements, embarked June 1917.  Mounted Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned September 1919.  Read more about Duncan James Matheson here.
Matheson Duncan Keith Rifleman 77468 Seaman.  42nd Reinforcements, embarked August 1918.  Served UK.  Returned April 1919.  Waipu migration descendant (Spray).
Matheson Eric Rifleman 23580 Farmer.  13th Reinforcements, embarked May 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Returned November 1919.
Matheson George Stafford Sapper 23/821 Labourer.  7th Reinforcements, embarked October 1915.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned April 1919, died July 1919 from illness contracted while on active service.  Read more about George Stafford Matheson here.
Matheson Graham Groves Private 14035 School teacher.  5th Reinforcements, embarked June 1916.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action Messines, Belgium, 7 June 1917.  Read more about Graham Groves Matheson here.
Matheson Hugh Alexander Lance Corporal 32868 Carter.  19th reinforcements, embarked 15 November 1916.  Served Western Front.  Awarded Military Medal for gallantry in the field.  Returned November 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of wounds received in action.
Matheson Hugh Ferguson Gunner 64548 Farmer.  37th Reinforcements, embarked May 1918.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand September 1919.  Waipu migration descendant (Margaret and Ellen Lewis).
Matheson Ian Meiklejohn Trooper 71833 Civil servant.  37th Reinforcements, embarked June 1918.  Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt.  Returned October 1919.  Waipu migration descendant (Spray).
Matheson James Weir Rifleman 36874 Clerk.  21st Reinforcements, embarked January 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action Ypres, Belgium, 12 October 1917.  Read more about James Weir Matheson here.
Matheson James Gunner 13/2847 Farmer.  9th Reinforcements, embarked January 1916.  Auckland Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned March  1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of injury received in action.  Waipu migration descendant (Margaret and Ellen Lewis).
Matheson James Rifleman 22840 Sheep farmer.  7th Reinforcements, embarked May 1916.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Illness in in UK.  Returned to New Zealand and discharged January 1917.
Matheson Jean Drysdale Sister 22/388 Nurse.  20th Reinforcements, embarked December 1916.Served UK and Western Front.  Returned July 1919.  Listed incorrectly in Cenotaph as Mathieson.  Read more about Jean Drysdale Matheson here.
Matheson John Robertson Lance Corporal 9/722 Quartz miner.  2nd Reinforcements, embarked December 1914.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Gallipoli, Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand February 1919.
Matheson John Samson Gunner 13204 Ironmoulder.  14th Reinforcements, embarked June 1916.  New Zealand Field Artillery.  Served Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand February 1919.
Matheson John Thomas Private 75650 Railway employee.  39th Reinforcements, embarked June 1918.  Served UK.  Returned August 1919.
Matheson John Corporal 17/118 Blacksmith.  Embarked December 1914.  Veterinary Corps.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand September 1919.
Matheson John Private 10/3645 Labourer.  9th Reinforcements, embarked January 1916.  Wellington Infantry Battalion.  Served Egypt, Western Front.  Killed in action Somme, France, 3 July 1916.
Matheson John Corporal 8/1060 Labourer.  Main body, embarked 16 October 1914.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Gallipoli, Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned April 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty.
Matheson John Private 12/2782 Seaman.  6th reinforcements, embarked August 1915.  Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned to New Zealand July 1917 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.  Next of kin Duncan Matheson (brother), Upper Glaik, Balmacara, Lochalsh.
Matheson Kenneth Murdoch Trooper 35831 Farrier.  23rd Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  New Zealand Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt, Palestine.  Killed in action Palestine 14 November 1917.  Waipu migration descendant (Ellen Lewis).  Read more about Kenneth Murdoch Matheson here.
Matheson Kenneth Murdoch Lance Sergeant 6/3401 Farmer.  8th Reinforcements, embarked November 1915.  Canterbury Infantry Battalion.  Served Egypt, Western Front.  Killed in action Somme, France, 1 October 1916.  Waipu migration descendant (Ellen Lewis).  Brother of Donald Munro Matheson (31131).  There is a photo of Kenneth Murdoch Matheson here.
Matheson Kenneth Private 10/1911|10/911 Shepherd.  4th Reinforcements, embarked April 1915.  Served Egypt, Gallipoli, Balkans.  Wounded Gallipoli.  Returned to New Zealand October 1917 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted on active service.  Read more about Kenneth Matheson here.
Matheson Kenneth Trooper 9/1335 Labourer.  6th Reinforcements, embarked August 1915.  Special Squadrons.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Balkans, Western Front.  Returned April 1919.
Matheson Leslie Temporary Warrant Officer 1 76062 Teacher.  38th Reinforcements, embarked January 1918.  Served UK (Education Department).  Returned October 1919.  Brother of Angus Matheson (44759) and nephew of Colin William Matheson (60157).  Read more about Leslie Matheson here.
Matheson Neil McLeod Lance Corporal 4/288 Samoan Advance Party, embarked August 1914.  Clerk.  25th Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Died of wounds, Belgium, 29 December 1917.  Read more about Neil McLeod Matheson here.
Matheson Neil Private 12/939 Labourer.  Main Body, embarked October 1914.  Auckland Infantry Battalion.  Served Egypt, Gallipoli.  Wounded.  Returned to New Zealand September 1915, discharged medically unfit May 1916.  Read more about Neil McLeod here.
Matheson Norman Sapper 4/2098 Miner.  11th Reinforcements, embarked April 1916.  New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company.  Served Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned December 1918 and discharged as no longer fit for war service.  Incorrectly listed as Mathieson on Cenotaph database.
Matheson Norman McLeod Temporary Sergeant 52241 Civil servant.  28th Reinforcements, embarked July 1917.  Served Western Front.  Returned May 1919.  Waipu migration descendant (Spray).  There is a photo of Norman McLeod Matheson here.
Matheson Norman Murdoch Private 71340 Teacher.  36th Reinforcements, embarked April 1918.  Served Egypt, Western Front.  Returned April 1919.  Son of Major Matheson, superintendent of Somes Island internment camp.
Matheson Roderick Dougald Lance Corporal 59141 Railway fireman.  36th Reinforcements, embarked April 1918.  Served Egypt, Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned June 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of injury received in action.
Matheson Roderick Ewan Lance Corporal 9/311 Cheesemaker.  Main Body, embarked October 1914.  Otago Mounted Rifles.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Gallipoli, Western Front.  Returned June 1919.  Read more about Roderick Ewen Matheson here.
Matheson Roderick McLeod Private 9659 Linesman.  Personnel file not available.  Next of kin sister in Scotland.  Also served in WW2, and died in Egypt in 1941.
Matheson Roderick Private 64094 Bridge builder.  32nd Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned August 1919.
Matheson Thomas Alexander Rifleman 32869 Wool classer.  19th Reinforcements, embarked November 1916.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action Ypres, Belgium, 7 August 1917.  Read more about Thomas Alexander Matheson here.
Matheson William Larnach Private 63192 Farmer.  32nd Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Canterbury Regiment.  Served Western Front, returned May 1919.
Matheson William McPherson Sergeant 1/122 Stock auctioneer.  Samoan Advance Party, embarked August 1914.  Medaille d’Honneur.  Next of kin (mother) lived in Glasgow.  There is a photo of William McPherson Matheson here.
Matheson William Rifleman 23/207 Porter.  Embarked October 1915.  New Zealand Machine Gun Corps.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, UK, Western Front.  Injured.  Returned April 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of illness contracted while on active service.
Matheson William Private 45174 Farmer.  26th Reinforcements, embarked June 1917.  Specialists Company.  Served Western Front.  Returned September 1919.
Matheson William Private 46750 Farmer.  25th Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  Otago Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned February 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for duty because of wounds received in action
Matheson William  Private 27544 Farm labourer.  17th Reinforcements, embarked September 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action Havrincourt, France, 29 September 1918. Son of Donald and Jessie Matheson, of Navity, Cromarty, Ross-shire, Scotland.

 

 

 

Surname First names Rank last held Serial number Comments
Mathieson Alexander Duncan Private 31520 Farmer.  19th Reinforcements, embarked November 1916.  Canterbury Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned April 1918, discharged as no longer fit for service because of wounds received in action.  Died October 1918 from effects of being gassed.
Mathieson Alexander Victor Private 58005 Contractor.  32nd Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Auckland Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Returned September 1919.  Read more about Alexander Victor Mathieson here.
Mathieson Alexander Private 46751 Farmer.  25th Reinforcements, embarked April 1917.  Otago Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned June 1919.
Mathieson Alexander Private 8/975A Greaser.  Main Body, embarked October 1914.  Served Egypt, Gallipoli.  Wounded.  Returned March 1916 and discharged.  Read more about Alexander Mathieson here.
Mathieson Colin Charles Private 29823 Labourer.  18th Reinforcements, embarked October 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Wounded in France and died of wounds UK 12 October 1918.  You can read more about Colin Charles Mathieson here.
Mathieson Henry Burge Rifleman 24/225 Labourer.  embarked October 1915.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Returned August 1919.  Discharged as no longer fit for service.  Died 4 August 1924 as a result of war service.
Mathieson John McArthur Private 31519 Farmer.  19th Reinforcements, embarked November 1916.  Canterbury Infantry Battalion.  Military Medal.  Served Western Front.  Killed in action 31 July 1917.
Mathieson John Private 82431 Labourer.  43rd Reinforcements, embarked October 1918.  UK.  Returned October 1919.
Mathison Martin Bernard Lance Corporal 19161 Gum sorter.  15th Reinforcements, embarked July 1916.  Auckland Regiment.  Served Western Front and wounded in action.  Discharged April 1920 as no longer fit for service because of wounds received in action.  Born Norway.
Mathieson Robert Johnstone Lance Corporal 23/1729 Trimmer.  9th Reinforcements, embarked January 1916.  Canterbury Infantry Regiment.  Served Egypt, Sinai/Palestine, Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned March 1919 and discharged as unfit for service because of illness contracted on active service.  Read more about Robert Johnston Mathieson here.
Mathieson Roderick Rifleman 40827 Seaman.  23rd Reinforcements, embarked March 1917.  New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Served Western Front.  Wounded.  Returned July 1919.
Mathieson Samuel James Chaplain Class IV (Captain) 55220 Clergyman.  26th Reinforcements, embarked June 1917.  Served UK and Western Front.  Returned June 1919.
Mathiesen Sydney Edward Charles Sapper 4/2195 Telegraph engineer.  10th reinforcements, embarked March 1916.  Served Mesopotamia, Western Front.  Returned February 1919, discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service.  Also recorded as Mathieson on his files, but his name was properly spelt Mathiesen.
Mathieson Thomas Berge Driver 43437 Mechanic.  26th Reinforcements, embarked June 1917.  New Zealand Field Artillery.  Served Western Front.  Returned March 1919 and discharged as no longer fit for war service.
Mathieson William Alfred Private 63365 Contractor.  32nd Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned September 1919.  Read more about William Alfred Mathieson here.
Mathieson William Harper Private 61337 Farmer.  31st Reinforcements, embarked November 1917.  Auckland Infantry Regiment.  Served Western Front.  Returned May 1919.  Read more about William Harper Mathieson here.
Mathieson William Grey Private 17797 Waterside worker.  15th Reinforcements, embarked July 1916.  Otago Infantry Battalion.  Served Western Front.  Returned June 1918, discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service.