MATHESON, Neil 12/939
Neil Matheson had the privilege of seeing his own name on the list of fallen servicemen on Lion Rock at Piha Beach; one of three names mistakenly included on the plaque. Research in the mid-2000s by the then genealogist for the New Zealand branch of the Clan Matheson Society, Don Scott, and Neil Matheson’s daughter Margaret Shortt, has uncovered some of Neil’s story.
In the late 1870s brothers Angus and Alexander Matheson came to New Zealand from Portree in Skye, whether together or separately isn’t known. Their parents were Malcolm Matheson, shoemaker and sometime postmaster, and Euphemia Chisholm. Malcolm and Euphemia had at least three sons and two daughters.
Angus Matheson married Alice May Cork in Dunedin in 1892 and they had five children: Neil, William Stanley, Malcolm Alexander, Enid Grierson and Angus. At some stage Neil left Dunedin for Auckland. He joined up in August 1914 and travelled to Egypt, and served at Gallipoli. He was hospitalised with illness twice and was wounded twice: in June and July 1915. He was invalided to New Zealand in August 1915 and discharged.
He married Hilda Pringle in 1917 and they had four daughters: Melva, Gladys, Iris and Margaret. Neil worked at Gardener’s Brick Works in New Lynn and then for a time had his own carrying business. He died in Auckland in March 1961.
And being listed with the fallen? Neil’s explanation was that he swapped the regimental number worn around his neck with that of another man, though his official service history has no record of him being mistaken for someone killed. Perhaps there is a more mundane explanation for the mix-up on the Piha plaque.
Clan Matheson Society New Zealand Branch newsletter 87, August 2007
Photo: Auckland Weekly News 15 July 1915.
Army personnel file, Archives New Zealand.