Arthur Richard Matthews

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Worcestershire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 30521

Parents: Edwin and Rosina Matthews

Marital status: Married

Home address: Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Coal Miner

Date of birth: 1891

Place of birth: Welton, Midsomer Norton, Somerset

Date of death: 13/01/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Amara War Cemetery. Iraq. Thornbury Baptist Church

Age: 25

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board.

Arthur Richard Matthews was born in the hamlet of Welton, near Midsomer Norton, Somerset, his birth being registered in the December quarter of 1891. He was baptised on 22nd October, the eldest child of coal hewer Edwin Matthews and his wife, Rosina. Arthur had seven brothers and sisters. At the time of the 1911 census he was living with his family in Midsomer Norton, employed as a ‘carting boy’ in a coal mine. In the December quarter of 1913 Arthur married Lily Morgan in Thornbury.

Arthur enlisted in Bristol, giving his residence as Thornbury. He served in 9th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, 13th Division, 39th Brigade.

In June 1915 the Division embarked at Avonmouth, landing in mid-July in Gallipoli. 9th Worcesters took part in various actions in this disastrous campaign. Over the four days of 6th to August 9th the Battalion lost 28 officers and 770 other ranks. In January 1916 the Division was evacuated and by March the 9th Worcesters were serving in Mesopotamia. The summer and autumn were fairly quiet, as the heat did not allow for much troop movement. Both the British and Turkish Armies were waiting for the cooler winter weather to arrive. 9th Worcesters were based at a training camp at Amara.

At the end of November they moved forward to the front, marching about 90 miles in ten days. The march began in hot sun but the last stage was completed in the rain on December 8th. Their camp was set up at ‘Twin Canals’, a post on a bleak plain covered for the most part with six inches of mud. Despite their surroundings the men were in good spirits. An officer noted, ‘If my men fight as they have marched, they are sure to do well’.

On 15th December 39th Brigade advanced, towards the enemy’s trenches, up the eastern bank of the Hai, a deep water course or branch of the River Tigris. Two Worcestershire platoons came under heavy shell fire and over a hundred men were killed or wounded.

Further casualties were sustained throughout late December and early January 1917 as preparations, including the construction of a system of trenches, were made for an attack on the Hai Salient. The Battalion was relieved on January 11th and marched back to ‘Worcester City’, a large group of dugouts in the rear line of defence.

Arthur must have been injured at some point during this period as he died of wounds on 13th January 1917. He lies in Amara War Cemetery. This cemetery contains 4,621 burials of the First World War, more than 3,000 of which were brought into the cemetery after the Armistice.

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website, Thornbury and District Museum Research Group and Forces War Records