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Sergeant Hector Matheson - 1st Gordon Highlanders

Sergeant Hector Matheson - 1st Gordon Highlanders

An article from Uig that appeared in The Hebridean newspaper; by Maggie Smith.

Hector Matheson was one of several young men from the village of Valtos, Uig, Isle of Lewis who went to serve in the First World War. Hector reached the rank of sergeant in the 1st Gordon Highlanders and at twenty-three years of age, died in action in France on 16th June 1917.

At least sixty-two men from the village of Valtos served in the war and ten of those made the ultimate sacrifice. The devastating news of Hector's death was relayed to his parents Donald and Annie Matheson and his brothers and sisters at 23 Valtos.

In later years the family were allocated a croft at 10 Reef. To Joan Maclennan (daughter of Calum Matheson) Hector was her father's elder brother lost in action, the "forever young" face in faded family pictures.

Almost ninety years after his death, in September 2005 a package arrived from Edinburgh, which told Joan more about his life. The collection of pictures showed Sergeant Hector Matheson in uniform and included the letter from the War Office, which states that 'Sergeant H. Matheson is reported as buried at Monchy le Preux, East-South-East of Arras'. Also included was a memorial card and picture issued by the military.

The army pictures had been sent by Hector Matheson in 1916-17 to his fiancée Jane Hannan in Dumfermline. The mementoes of the soldier who never retuned from the war were treasured by Jane and on her death in 1963. Her sister stored them away. In 2005 Jane's niece Marguerite Reid from Edinburgh felt the pictures should be returned to Hector's relatives so, with the help of the War Graves Commission Website, Marguerite traced the Matheson's Valtos address and she says 'I feel that I am now sending Hector home'.

In an accompanying letter Marguerite Reid was puzzled as to how Hector and Jane had met and enquired as to whether he had a trade that may have taken him to Dumfermline.

Joan Maclennan has drawn a blank but has discovered Hector was a monitor in Valtos School and was one of the few pupils who gained the high marks that were necessary to enter the Nicolson Institute School in Stornoway. It is also said that Hector worked in the post office owned by John Macdonald (An Downie) in Miavaig, Uig. Marguerite and Joan have been unable to find out whether Hector served in the army before the war.

In a group picture on a French postcard, six sergeants in C Company 1st Gordons are listed. On the reverse side Hector has pencilled-in names and refers to his own picture in the line up as 'your humble servant ' Marguerite reflects on how very rarely that phrase is used today.

During the years of the First World war, Jane Hannan lost not only the man who had asked for her hand in marriage, she also grieved for two brothers lost in action. Will aged twenty-three and a younger brother Hugh aged just nineteen. Jane never married and she emigrated to New Zealand shortly after the war, returning to this country in 1946.

The black edged memorial card for the soldier from Valtos reads:

For His Country's Sake:

No loved ones stood around him

To bid a last farewell

No word of comfort could he leave

To those he loved so well. Had we but seen his last fond lookOr watched his dying bed

Our hearts would not have felt so sore

The bitter tears we've shedSleep on, dear son, in a far off graveIn a grave we shall never see,

But as long as life and memory last

We will remember thee

Title: Sergeant Hector Matheson - 1st Gordon Highlanders
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Newspaper Article
Record Maintained By: CEU
Subject Id: 49082