War Records

    Photos

    Biography

    Charles Bertram Matthison WWI

    Bert enlisted on February 24, 1916 (age 22) in Stratford and joined the Perth Regiment 110 Battalion. He trained at Camp Borden and his battalion went overseas on October 2nd. They arrived in Liverpool on November 10th continued on to the military base in Seaford, England. Shortly after arriving in England he was drafted into the 44 Canadian Mounted Rifles (4™CMR). In December he came down with influenza and it was a month before he was able to continue his training. On June 16th, 1917 he crossed over to Boulogne, France. Bert was in different work parties and saw action with the 4″ CMR as a support battalion. He kept a daily diary and on November 4th, 1917 he wrote “had funny dream that shot through heart.” This dream almost came true a year and a half later. He was on the front line in January and February 1918. On June 29th he became a Lance Corporal (L/Cpl). By August 7, 1918 the 4th CMR were called up to help the British forces attach the Germans in the Battle of Amiens. On August 22nd they were given orders to move to the front line to prepare for the Battle of Arras. On August 28th

    Bert went “over the top” with his battalion near Boiry, France. They ran into heavy artillery fire and he was wounded in the knee. A piece of shrapnel hit the diary he kept in his chest pocket, protecting his heart. He was wounded during what was called “The Last Hundred Days” of the war. The battle of Amiens and Arras were fought during this final big offensive of the war and there were many casualties. Bert was sent back to England by boat and train and reached Oakfield Hospital on September 1st. He was discharged from the hospital on March 25, 1919 and returned home March 31st.

    Biography By Reg (Bert’s grandson) & Lynn Matthison.

    Stories

    Lance Corporal Charles Bertram Matthison was born on January 14th, 1884, in Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland, where his father, John Matthison, Sergeant-Major, 10th Royal Hussars, was stationed.

    “Bert” emigrated on his own to Canada in 1911 and worked for farmers in Downie Township, Perth County, Ontario. He attested into the 110th (Perth) Battalion in Stratford, Ontario, on February 24th, 1916. On October 6th, 1916, his last leave, he asked Emily Adamson Murray to marry him when he returned home after the war. He then headed back to Camp Borden, took the train to Halifax, embarked on the Caronia and arrived in Liverpool on November 10th, then took the train to Seaford.

    After a number of days of training, Bert went on leave and headed to Currah Camp, Ireland, to visit his father, who had been called back to duty, doing office work for the army, and then returned to camp on the 27th. Training continued in Southeast England and when he had a few days off would visit family in the London area. Bert left camp for France on June 16th, 1917, continued training – lots of marches, spoke of the destruction of many of the towns and villages, marched past Vimy, wrote many letters and was thankful for all the friends and family who wrote to him. The following extracts illustrate the life of a solider in the front line:

    October 1917, “not much doing but managed to beg a couple of loaves, jam and cheese, grub not plentiful, busy finishing up our dugout, putting window and stove in, she smokes some, weather not improving”.

    November 1917, “Passchendaele Ridge taken by Canadians, went to Head Quarters, witness on first case and went down line”.

    January 1918, “some life, dirty, lousy and not much doing to pass time, a little milder, some dugout, two entrances with a stairway leading to an “O” pipe, a ton of iron and enclosed in concrete, first trip to “No Man’s Land”.”

    At the end of the month he was able to go back to England on leave. On February 15th he headed back to France. He mentioned lots of bombardments, cleaning up, stinking gas floating around, “a dull day not having too bad a time, wearing masks and long boots, some snow, on post all night, kind of cool’.

    July 9th, “On trench patrol, pretty lively night”.

    July 10th “Fred Wilson killed, with Mills bomb, accident”. By way of explanation, after returning to the trench, Private Fred Wilson, whilst trying to remove a Mills bomb from his pocket, accidentally released the pin igniting the time-fuse. In an act of heroism he turned away from his fellow comrades and was killed, but saved the lives of the other men around him, including Bert.

    Back on November 4th, 1917, Bert wrote in his diary “Had funny dream that shot through heart”. Almost a year later, on August 28th, 1918, he wrote in his diary, “Over again at 11 am to Boiry. Wounded in the knee”. Not only that, but a piece of shrapnel hit the diary in his chest pocket, which saved his life. The mark from the shrapnel showed right to the back of the diary.

    He was put on a night train and arrived at No. 2 Austrian General Hospital, Bologne. By September 1st he was at Oakfield Hospital, Upton, Heath, near Chester, England. Two weeks later he found out that his cousin, Victor Berry, had been killed. Victor had been in France less than a month and had celebrated his 19th birthday there. Once he was feeling better, Bert was able to visit family.

    On February 5th, 1918 he headed to camp at Rhyl on the east coast of England, where the solders waited until they could be shipped home. The beginning of March found riots happening in the camp. The soldiers were frustrated, nothing to do, wanted to get home. On March 10th Bert boarded the White Star Liner Atlantic and arrived in Downie Township towards the end of March, where he subsequently purchased a farm. He worked for another farmer for a year.

    He married Emily Murray on April 3th, 1920. They were married at her home and their honeymoon consisted of driving down the road to their new home on the farm. They had two children, Jack and Dorothy. Bert’s son, Jack, took over the farm in 1946 and Bert and Emily moved to the village of Avonton, a short drive from the farm. Bert worked for the Downie Mutual Fire Insurance Company as Secretary-Treasurer, retiring in 1956.

    Emily died in 1974 and Bert continued to living in Avonton. In November 1982, whilst crossing the road in front of his home, he was hit by a car and died. He was 88 years old. Bert was a kind and generous man and the family is very proud of him. The farm is still in the Matthison name today.

    Bibliography