Born (Ernest Leslie Charles) on the 10th of March 1890 in Cairns, Qld – the son of Donald MATHESON and Jeanette (Janet/Jane) HOUSTON, who married in Victoria in 1872
Jeanette died on the 20/8/1891 at their home in Sachs St, Qld, aged 38, leaving Donald with 8 children, the youngest being Ernest at 17 months old
Donald died in Perth, WA 17/1/1921, aged 71
Siblings: 1. John Duncan b.1873 Qld – d.1924; 2. Janet b.1875; 3. Donald b.1878 Vic (aka Don King, Pugilist) – Horse Breaker – Boer War: LCpl 2887, 4th Aust Commonwealth Horse – WW1: Pte 570, 11th Bn – KIA 12/7/1915 Gallipoli; 4. Herbert Francis b.1879 (appl to enlist WW1); 5. Marion Edith b.1881 Qld; *6. Maude Alice b.1884 – marr Charles Lanham COWARD (WW1: Sgt 1311, 4th BGROC) – divorced 1930 – remarried BLANCHARD; 7. Grace Emily b.1887;
NOK: Sister – Maud Coward, Fairfax Terrace, Torrensville, SA (Maud Blanchard living Harrington, NSW 1967)
Religion: Church of England
Conductor on the Adelaide Tramways
Enlisted on the 25/11/1914 at Oaklands, SA, giving his age as 22 years 9 months [he was actually 24]
Embarked on the 6/2/1915 on the A52 Surada as Trooper 722 with the 1st Reinforcements of the 9th Light Horse Regiment
Allotted to A Squadron 8/4/1915 and proceeded to join MEF Gallipoli 16/5/1915
Wounded in the head and face at Lone Pine and embarked on the hospital ship Delta 7/8/1915 for return to Egypt and admitted to the 17th General Hospital, Alexandria 11/8/1915
Embarked for England on the Dongala 19/8/1915 where he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital
Admitted to St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blind Soldiers 24/11/1915 – discharged 25/11/1917
Fully trained in mat making (apparently also basket making and boot repairing)
Returned to Australia on the HS Karoola 25/11/1917 – 10/1/1918
Discharged from the AIF 25/1/1918 and resided with his sister Maud
Married Mary Scott PHILLIPS on the 5th of August 1920 at Christ Church, North Adelaide
Mary was born in 1891, the daughter of Frank Phillips
Children: Donald Scott b.15/6/1921 Adelaide – WW2: RAAF – Clerk – d.2005
Member of the Australian Blinded Soldiers’ Association
Died on the 16th of December 1965 in Sth Australia
Buried Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasedena, Mitcham City, SA
Mary was living at 128 Kermode St, Nth Adelaide in 1969 when she applied for the Gallipoli Medallion – she died in 1975
The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), Wed 25 Aug 1915 (p.4):
BROTHERS IN ARMS
Mrs C.L. Coward, of Torrensville, who had two brothers serving with the Australian Imperial Forces at the Dardanelles, received the sad news on Wednesday that her brother, Mr Donald Matheson, had been killed in action, and her youngest brother, Mr Ernest Matheson, had been severely injured in both eyes and had been invalided to England. Both brothers were good athletes, Donald being amateur champion boxer of W.A. in 1903. He also served through the Boer war and was 36 years of age and single. Mr Ernest Matheson went away from Adelaide with the 3rd Reinforcements. He was a conductor on the Adelaide tramways for some time and was 23 years of age and single.
The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), Mon 6 Mar 1916 (p.1):
PRIVATE ERNEST MATHESON
Word has been received from London that Private Ernest Matheson, of Adelaide, who was wounded at Gallipoli, on August 7, is totally blind. He is an inmate of St Dunstan’s Home for Blind Soldiers, London.
Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 23 Jun 1916 (p.4):
SEATS NEAR ROYALTY – For Blinded Australians
“A BIT RICH FOR US” – Melbourne Man’s Experiences
Of the strange things of war there is no end, and Mr W.H. White, of Melbourne, has forwarded the details of one of them to “The Graphic.”
Mr White’s son, T.A. White [sic], enlisted for service, and was sent to Gallipoli. Another private, E. Matherson [sic], of New South Wales, became his firm friend on the boat going over. These two men had never seen each other before, but afterwards they were wounded, on the same date, both losing their sight. They were both invalided to London, on the same date, put into Wandsworth Hospital, on the same day, transferred to St Dunstan’s – of which pictures have appeared in “The Graphic” – on the same date, and finally, on the occasion of the Anzac celebrations in London, they were “snapped” together, while being led to Westminster Abbey by nurses, and their photos published in an English illustrated paper. At the Abbey these men occupied a position of honour near their Majesties.
Lots of Fun
In a letter written on behalf of Private White to his father, some interesting glimpses of the life which these men now lead is given. One man seldom goes out without his blind “pal,” “and,” it is added, “we have lots of fun walking into people and the things we can’t see. The winter here has been terrible. It must have been ‘put up’ specially for the Australians, just to see how they could stand it. Snowballing is great, but when you get one in the back of the neck it makes you wake up a bit.”
Chatted With King
The letter adds that the King and Queen chatted to them, also Lord Kitchener and Sir George Reid. They say the people of London were very kind, and gave them many useful presents, both at Wandsworth and at St Dunstan’s. “But,” continues the letter, “the seats we occupied at the Abbey, near their Majesties, was a bit rich for us. We could not sing out ‘Hello there, mate.’ But, on the whole, we enjoyed ourselves. We are now expecting to be coming home to Australia, where the sun shines.”
[The meeting of White and Matheson would not have occurred until they were both wounded the same day at Gallipoli and returned to Egypt on the same hospital ship. Matheson had been on the Peninsula for nearly 3 months before receiving his wound, whereas White had only arrived the day before.]
Evening News (Sydney, NSW) Thur 13 Jul 1916 (p.7):
WIN EVENTS AT REGATTA
LONDON, Wednesday Night
Blinded soldiers in training at St Dunstan’s Hostel competed in a regatta at Putney, and won every event for which they entered.
Private E.C. Matheson, of the 9th Light Horse, accompanied by a Canadian, won the double sculls against the Worcester College for the Blind.
Critic (Adelaide, SA), Wed 18 Aug 1920 (p.22):
MATHESON – PHILLIPS
A smart and pretty wedding took place at Christ Church, Jeffcott Street, North Adelaide, on Thursday afternoon, 5th inst., when the marriage was solemnized of Miss Mary Scott Phillips and Mr Ernest Charles Matheson (late A.I.F., Anzac), the officiating clergyman being the Rev. Canon Jose. The bride who looked charming in cream, was given away by her father. Miss Mollie Williams acted as bridesmaid, and the bridegroom was ably supported by the Rev. Bullbeck (late A.I.F.) as groomsman. After the ceremony, which was witnessed by a large circle of friends, a reception was held at the residence of the bride’s parents, Mr and Mrs Frank Phillips, Kermode Street, North Adelaide. The health of the bride and bridegroom was proposed by Mr Harry Flood in a happy and eulogistic speech, and was heartily received and drunk with musical honors by all present. The bridegroom responded on behalf of his wife and himself, and the Rev. Bullbeck also supported the toast in a neat little speech. Amongst the many friends present, were the following: – Mesdames A.G. Price, E. Main, Williams, Lucas, Coward, Hardy, Hamlyn, R. Bartlett, E. Webb, Nurse Gurner, the Misses Williams, Hamlyn, Hardy, Sanderson, A. Rennie, Honeywill, Harris and Dryer, Rev. Bullbeck, and Messrs Phillips, Webb, H. Flood, and McArthur.
Observer (Adelaide, SA), Sat 7 May 1921 (p.29):
WATCHES FOR BLIND SOLDIERS
Special significance attached to the monthly social meeting of the blind soldiers’ sub-branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League, which was held at the Cheer-up Hut, Adelaide, on Tuesday night, for it was the occasion of presentations of Braille watches to each member. The timepieces, which are Swiss levers, were obtained with great difficulty by the local Retail Jewellers’ Association. Some time ago this organization intimated that it would give every blind soldier in this State a Braille watch, and it was expected that they would be available about 12 months ago. However, specimens submitted were not favourable, and the delay was unavoidable. The watches handed to the men on Tuesday night are of attractive design, nickel-plated, and guaranteed to be reliable. The name of each recipient is engraved on the back of the case by Mr A.V. Redwood, of Adelaide. The President of the sub-branch (Mr G. McEwin) informed members that officials of the Jewellers’ Association had attended the meeting that night for the purpose indicated. Mr W.T. Murphy (President) then made the presentations to Messrs ……….., E.C. Matheson, ………………..
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), Thur 18 Aug 1938 (p.28):
The fifth biennial conference of the Australian Blinded Soldiers’ Association will be held at Brisbane on September 5. The South Australian delegates, who will leave Adelaide on September 1, are Messrs A.G. Marshall, E.C. Matheson, and T.P. Drummond.
St Dunstan’s Review, May 1966 (p.18):
Ernest Charles Matheson, 9th Light Horse
It is with deep regret we have to record the death on 16th December, 1965, of Ernest Charles Matheson of North Adelaide, South Australia. He was aged 73 years.
He enlisted in August 1914 with the 9th Light Horse. He was wounded at Gallipoli in August 1915 and admitted to St Dunstan’s in November of that year. He trained in basket making and boot repairing. He returned home to Australia in November, 1917 and received his discharge from the Army in 1918.
To his widow and other members of his family we offer our sympathy on their sad loss.
Embarkation Roll shows NOK details for Arthur Stark Marshall (643 / 3179), 2nd Reinf, 9th LH
[wife: Blanche Marshall, Eudunda, SA]
Photo & bio: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1256309?search
Group photo of Delegates to the ABSA in Perth 1929:
Cairns Post (Qld), Wed 26 Aug 1891 (p.2):
MATHESON – On the 20th August, at her residence, Sachs-street, Janet, the beloved wife of Donald Matheson, aged 38, leaving eight children, the youngest only 17 months old. Her devoted husband and orphaned children deplore the sad loss of a loving wife and mother.
*Brother Donald’s Service Record:
Kalgoorlie Miner (WA), Mon 18 Oct 1915 (p.4):
MATHESON – KING – Killed in action at the Dardanelles, Don (better known as Don King, pugilist), beloved son of Donald Matheson, Marble Bar, and a sincere friend of May Hall, Meekatharra. He gave his life for his King and country.
Kalgoorlie Miner (WA), Wed 12 Jul 1916 (p.4):
MATHESON – KING – In loving memory of Donald (“Don”), better known as Don King, pugilist, killed in action at Gallipoli on July 12, 1915. Also served in the Boer War. Beloved son of Donald Matheson, Protheroe.
Too far away thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.
His duty done.
– Inserted by his loving friend, May Hall, Cue.
Don 1904: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/202876000
WW1 Service Record of CL Coward:
Maud’s son b.c1915 named Ernest Donald Matheson Coward – saved from drowning 1922:
Tpr E.C. Matheson
Posted by FrevFord, Thursday, 2 November 2017
Description of AWM Portrait:
Informal outdoor portrait of 722 Trooper Ernest Charles Matheson and an unidentified VAD at St Dunstan's Hospital. Born in Cairns, Queensland, Ernest Charles Matheson was working in South Australia as a labourer when he enlisted in the AIF on 25 November 1914, at the age of 22. He was assigned to the 1st Reinforcements, 9th Light Horse Regiment, and after initial training, embarked for overseas service from Melbourne, aboard the troopship HMAT Surada (A52), on 6 February 1915. Tooper Matheson joined his regiment in Egypt on 8 April and was posted to A Squadron. The regiment arrived on Gallipoli in May. Matheson was wounded in the face at Lone Pine on 7 August 1915 and was immediately evacuated to Egypt and then on to England to the 3rd London General Hospital. He lost his left eye and also the sight in his right eye. Once his wounds had healed he was admitted to St Dunstan's Hospital for the blind in November 1915 where he underwent rehabilitation and training for work in civilian life for the next two years. He was discharged from St Dunstan's on 25 November 1917, described as being 'fully trained in mat making', and returned to Australia two days later. He was discharged from the army at the end of January 1918. Although blind, Matheson was able to find his way around parts of London with little assistance. In 1917 he was noticed by a British artist, Claire Sheridan, in Regent's Park, dressed in his uniform. She later recalled that Matheson had attracted her attention 'by the way he walked alone, with his head held high and an inspired expression on his face. He was beautiful and resigned and patient'. His appearance inspired her to create a small painted plaster statue of Matheson, now in the War Memorial collection as ART19568. She replaced the cane he normally carried with the figure of a woman to guide him. Ernest Matheson died in Adelaide in December 1965. St Dunstan's continues to support blind and visually impaired ex-Service men and women today.