Alexander Mathieson was killed in the Western Desert in North Africa on 27 November 1941, the same day as Myles Gibbons Matheson was killed in the same battle and around the same time Archie Matheson was taken prisoner.  Alexander was in the 26th Battalion, fighting to capture Sidi Rezegh in Libya.

New Zealand troops were part of the Allied effort to retake the eastern region of Libya, and ultimately drive the Italians and Germans out of North Africa.  The campaign was partially successful, and did achieve the badly needed relief of Tobruk where Australian and other Allied troops had been trapped.  The New Zealand Division played a major role this campaign, which was important in achieving British victory in North Africa.

On the night of 26/27 November the troops of Alexander Mathieson’s unit (the 26th Battalion) fought their way along the slopes leading to Sidi Rezegh.  They faced intense resistance from German and Italian troops and suffered high losses.  One soldier described it as “the hardest, bloodiest and most deadly attack ever staged by our unit”.

Knightsbridge war cemetery, Acroma, Libya

Knightsbridge war cemetery, Acroma, Libya

Alexander Mathieson is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Knightsbridge War Cemetery at Acroma in Libya, 25 km west of Tobruk.

He was the son of Alexander Mathieson and Ivy Irene Mathieson (née Fairbairn), of Tomahawk on the Otago Peninsula.  At the time of enlistment he was working as a milk vendor, an occupation that may have been associated with farm of his parents or other relatives on Otago peninsula.  I suspect that his father served in the First World War as 46751 Private Alexander Mathieson in the Otago Infantry Regiment.

Sources:
Cox, Peter (2015) Desert war; the battle of Sidi Rezegh.  Exisle Publishing
Photo of headstone in Libya: New Zealand War Graves Project
Photo of headstone in Dunedin: Dunedin City Council

Anderson's Bay cemetery, Dunedin

Anderson’s Bay cemetery, Dunedin