Sunday, April 10, 2011

Captain Frederick John Matthews MC: Royal Naval Division

This is the scanned picture of my Teid (my Welsh maternal grandfather) which I received yesterday morning.  In the beginning of the First World War there were too many volunteers for the Royal Navy. So Winston Churchill created the Royal Naval Division which fought on land but retained Naval ranks and traditions.  

"It was regarded as a highly efficient fighting force and played a prominent part in some of the bloodiest battles of the war".

Teid had volunteered to join the Navy in 1915 and was sent to the RND.  He eventually became a Captain (temporary wartime commission RNVR). He fought in Gallipoli and on the Western front in the First World War. In 1917 he was awarded a Military Cross for attacking and capturing a German Machine Gun post and taking 40 prisoners.

After the War he became a Regular Warrant Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and in the Second World War he was a Warrant officer in the Royal Air Force.  So he served in all three Armed Services.  I was 9 when he died in 1971.

This picture is important to me.  I have waited a long time to get a copy.  It was obviously displayed in pride of place in my grandparents' home in Denbigh, North Wales.  Together with the actual Military Cross and the Certificate of Honour from his hometown of Abercarn.  All my (seven) maternal aunties and uncles also had copies displayed prominently in their homes.  I am sure that many families can relate to this experience.

However, equally important to the Mathews family, Teid, was also known as someone who would stand up for ordinary people in the local community.  Someone who write and send letters to Landlords, employers, the Bank, the Council or whoever - on behalf of those who could not express themselves in this way.

In our family we took pride in him representing ordinary working people as well in his bravery in Battle.


philip davies said...

Hi John
I am very interested in the RND and have given several talks to WFA branches. I am currently researching RND at Antwerp 1914 for a talk to be delivered in June 2011. This week I am off to France and wilkl be visiting the scene of the battle of the Ancre where the RND was in action 13th-15th November. You are right to be proud of Captain Frederick John Matthews MC.
It would be interesting to find out more about him. If I can be of any help please let me know.

Best Wishes
Phil Davies

philip davies said...

Hi John
I tried to leave a blog but do not know if it worked so I will send a slightly different one. The photo shows your grandfather as a Lieutent in the RND so it was probably taken following his ward of a commission. Do you know what battalion he was in? Do you have a copy of the citation for his Military Cross.
You are right to be very proud of him. Well done
Philip Davies

John Gray said...

Hi Philip

Thank you so very much for your interest. He was a member of Hawke Battalion. He joined after Antwerp (1915 to 1918) I have a copy of the citation.

Sadly, co-incidentally, tonight I am in North Wales because we are going to bury my Uncle Jim in Denbigh tomorrow. He was one of Teid's three sons. He also had 5 daughters (including my Mum). Uncle Jim would have loved to know more about his father's military service. We talked about it only last month.

I will post the citation details when I return. I do have a copy of his military service record but would like to know more about where he fought and even visit the where he won his MC.

You can email me on

John Gray said...