MATHESON, Colin William 60157

Uncle of the brothers Leslie Matheson (76062) and Angus Matheson (44759).  Colin Matheson was conscripted at the age of 42, soon after he had left his job as a grocery manager and joined the printing firm he had started with his brother and cousin: Clark and Matheson, in Auckland.  He trained as an infantryman and was sent to the Western Front to serve in the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment (known as 2/Auckland), the same battalion as his nephew Angus Matheson.

Colin Matheson in London, January 1919

Colin Matheson in London, January 1919

Colin arrived in France in late March 1918, just as the German Spring Offensive started, and saw action within a few days of arrival.  After the Allies defeated the German advance, Colin spent the summer of 1918 ‘holding the line’; engaged in trench warfare in France, raiding German lines and repelling German attacks.  As well as fighting with a rifle, Colin was trained in the use of the Lewis (machine) gun.

In August 1918 the New Zealand forces began a new type of warfare, leaving the trenches to advance across open ground using new artillery methods and operational techniques.  This ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ 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.

For the New Zealanders one of the main engagements was the little-known Battle of Bapaume from 21 August to 2 September 1918.  It was during this battle, while capturing the village of Bapaume, that Colin was shot in the right leg by a machine gun bullet.  He lay on the battlefield all day before being rescued and passed back through a well-organised casualty treatment system.  Despite being seriously wounded he recovered, but spent months in hospital and a convalescent home in England before being sent back to New Zealand and discharged.  Colin married after the war and had two sons.  He continued to work in the family printing firm until in his 80s, and died in 1965 aged 90.


Answering the call: Colin Matheson in the First World War by Andrew Matheson, 2015.
Army personnel file, Archives New Zealand.
Family photo.