MATHIESON, Colin Charles 29823
Born in Australia, Colin and some of his brothers had crossed the Tasman to work in New Zealand, and he was a labourer in Bluff when he enlisted in the army mid-1916. After initial training he left with the 18th Reinforcements on the Willochra in October 1916.
In a way his story is typical of many — further training in England, action in France, injury and death. But there is more to the tale than that. Jared Morgan is a journalist who was based for a time in Invercargill, and has uncovered the details behind this soldier’s apparently straightforward story. Jared is Colin Mathieson’s great-grandson, and his investigations revealed much about his ancestor that he didn’t know: marriage to a pregnant widow six years older than himself, the birth of a daughter he never met (Jared’s grandmother), and months spent in military hospitals in England being treated for venereal disease. Jared’s story is here.
Military personnel files record events like this in dry, bureaucratic notes laden with abbreviations. Not all those who served were heroes or paragons of virtue, but they served their country nevertheless.
Colin Mathieson finally got into action in France in late 1917, and the following year was trained as a machine gunner. He was serving with the Otago Regiment when, on 26 August 1918, he was shot in the neck. He remained dangerously ill and died of wounds in the New Zealand General Hospital in Walton-on-Thames on 14 October 1918, just a few weeks before the end of the war. He was buried at Brookwood military cemetery, and is commemorated on the Bluff war memorial (in the section ‘died on active service’ rather than ‘killed in action’, suggesting the gunshot wounds were not incurred during battle).
Family research brings surprises, by Jared Morgan, Southland Times 20 April 2009.
Photo of gravestone kindly supplied by Antony McCallum of WyrdLight Photography.
Photo of Bluff war memorial from nzhistory.govt.nz.