MATHESON, Angus 44759

Brother of Leslie Matheson (76062) and nephew of Colin William Matheson (60157), Angus worked as a compositor in the family printing firm of Clark and Matheson in Auckland.  He joined the army in January 1917 aged just 21.  After training in New Zealand and in England at Sling Camp, he left for the Western Front in July 1917 as a member of the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment (known as 2/Auckland).

He was with the regiment when it was involved in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, beginning with the Battle of Passchendaele (the Third Battle of Ypres) from July to October 1917.  After a cold and muddy winter near the France/Belgium border Angus was fortunate to spend three weeks on leave in the UK.  In spring 1918 the Auckland regiment was flung into action in France when the German army made a last-ditch effort to over-run the British army and defeat France.  The Aucklanders fought well as part of the New Zealand Division that played a pivotal role in holding the British line.

Brother Leslie (left) and Angus (right) Matheson, in London in early 1919

Brother Leslie (left) and Angus (right) Matheson, in London in early 1919

Eventually the German offensive collapsed, and the New Zealanders spent the summer of 1918 in trench warfare, holding the line against persistent German attacks and making forays into enemy-held territory.  In June Angus spent two weeks assigned to an instruction school, most likely in use of the Lewis (machine) gun.

Finally came the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, which saw the Germans retreating or being driven from all the ground they had seized in the spring of 1918, the collapse of the German defences and ultimately the capitulation of the German empire in November 1918.  Angus’s regiment was heavily involved in this offensive, during which New Zealand troops constantly moved forward in the vanguard of the British advance.  He would have seen action in the bloody battle of Bapaume, in which his uncle Colin Matheson was seriously wounded, and at the end of that period of concentrated action he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Angus was with 2/Auckland at the battles of Welsh Ridge and Crêvecœur, but sent out to a second period as an instructor just before the famous liberation by New Zealand troops of the walled French town of Le Quesnoy.  Once he rejoined his regiment after the armistice it was on the march into Germany as part of the army of occupation, right through Belgium and then by train for the short journey to the outskirts of Cologne.  In February–March 1919 Angus had another period of leave in the UK, and at the end of this rather than return to Europe he went to Sling Camp in England to await repatriation to New Zealand.  He arrived home in June 1919.  Angus went back to work with Clark and Matheson, and later married and had three sons.  He died in 1953 aged only 58.

Army personnel file, Archives New Zealand.
The Auckland Regiment by O E Burton, 1922.
Family photo.