Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Lieutenant Herbert Gerard Mathieson, 3rd Battalion (City of London), the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) was killed in action on the Western Front.
Educated at Aldenham School, he went on to join the London Regiment and was one of the officers to receive the new colours from His Majesty King Edward VII in June of 1909. The demands of his business necessitated him leaving the territorial force – he was a Director of Messrs. Burrup, Mathieson & Sprague Ltd., a 300-year-old stationery manufacturer and printing firm specialising in legal documents, company stationery, shares and bonds.
At the outbreak of the Great War, Lieutenant Mathieson rejoined his regiment and served in Malta before arriving in France in January of 1915. On the day of his death he was leading a charge at Neuve Chapelle when he fell, mortally wounded. A private under his command was invalided home and informed Lieutenant Mathieson’s widow of that last day. He told her that her husband had been cheering them all up, as he always did before taking them into action.
“I never saw a man so cool. We believed in him to a man. He was always one for doing a good turn for anyone, officers or men. ‘A’ Company was ordered up to the front to take a house at the corner of the village of Neuve Chapelle. We were met with a perfect ball of flame—it was hell let loose. The house was held by a dozen Germans and several machine guns. Captain Pulman advanced and fell almost immediately, surrounded by a dozen or so men. Seeing this, the rest of the company half hesitated. Lieutenant Mathieson sprang forward, shouted, “Come on boys, don’t be shy!” They followed as one man. A few seconds afterwards he was shot through the head and died almost immediately.”
Lieutenant Mathieson’s colonel described him as a splendid character, a gallant gentleman, and a born soldier who would have made his mark had he been spared, He lies buried in the Royal Irish Rifles graveyard at Laventie in France.
Herbert, from London, was 26 years old and married.