George Matheson, as he was known, had a short war. He was single and working as a labourer in Clydevale, Otago, when he joined up in 1916. He followed the route taken by thousands of fellow New Zealanders: training in New Zealand, by ship to England, further training at Sling Camp in Wiltshire, and then to the Western Front.
George was in Sling Camp for less than a month and was in France on 30 October 1916. He joined the 2nd battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment on 9 November and was wounded less than a week later. Despite the attention of the Australian medics who treated him, he died the following day. He was only 18, according to the newspaper reports of the time. He had falsified his age when enlisting, stating that he had been born in 1894 or 1895 (both versions are in the files) though he was actually born in 1898.
He was buried in the Trois Arbres Cemetery in Steenwerck, which is in the French part of Flanders near to Armentières. This cemetery was established by the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station in July 1916 and is now maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
George was the son of Donald and Mary Matheson, and his next of kin was his eldest brother James Matheson of Duncan Street Dunedin and also Aparima Hotel at Riverton.
Newspaper clippings: PapersPast
Portrait: Freelance 8 December 1916
Gravestone: New Zealand War Graves Project
Clydevale war memorial: New Zealand History.