Corporal Roderick Mathieson – Military Cross


Corporal Roderick Mathieson of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers was awarded the Military Cross in WW1 for his heroism.

Shared here by Wilma Bolton, the Hamilton Advertiser told his story in June 1916 as follows:

“An interesting function took place on Saturday night last, in the Masonic Hall, High Blantyre, when the officials and a large number of workers of the Priory Colliery, belonging to Messrs William Baird & Co. (Ltd.), met in a social capacity to do honour to one of their former employees –Corporal Roderick Mathieson, of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who lately was awarded the Military Cross, and who had the distinction conferred upon him last week by Viscount French. Mr Richard McPhee, general manager of the firm presided, and was supported by Mr Robert Thom cashier; Mr James Lawson, manager at the Priory; and Mr Joseph Park, manager at Craighead; while the guest of the evening occupied a seat adjoining the chairman.

After supper, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were submitted and in proposing the toast “Our Guest,” the Chairman said they had met here to do honour to Corpl. Mathieson and to present him with some gifts from the officials and employees of the Priory Colliery as a token of their esteem and regard on the occasion of his having received the high honour of the Military Cross for exceptional bravery on the battlefield. Prior to enlisting, he was employed as an underground fireman in the Priory Colliery, and shortly after the outbreak of the war he joined the Colours and ultimately was drafted to France. Latterly he had charge of a bombing party and had 16 men under him. In June last he noticed that considerable havoc was being wrought among our own men and he determined to find out what was causing it and he called for volunteers to go into the German trenches. He got no response, how-ever, as it seemed that certain death awaited those who ventured. On this the gallant Corporal said, “Then I am going myself” and off he went. On the way he met his Captain, who said to him “Hallo, Mathieson, where are you going? “I am going over to the German trenches, as we have been losing a lot of men unnecessarily just now and I am going to see where the guns are that are knocking our men out.” “Is nobody going with you? Asked the officer. “No, sir,” replied Mathieson. “Then I will go with you.” And off the two set.

Shortly afterwards in (in the middle of the night) they found themselves in the German trenches. The corporal took his bombs with him, and made good use of them. Afterwards they made their way into a communication trench and succeeded in locating the position of a hidden gun, which was doing the havoc. There was not a man outside of the officer and Corporal Mathieson knows the great danger that they ran. After locating the gun or guns they made their way back to their own lines, but by this time they had been observed and the machine guns were trained on the pair, and their chance of getting back seemed indeed very vague, as they were only 25 yards from the enemy guns. In going back Corporal Mathieson was wounded in the abdomen, but he managed to crawl along and arrived in their own trenches. Gallant deeds have been done, and will be done again but can anything be done to equal the bravery of their guest? A high honour had fallen on their young friend and his bravery on the field of battle reflects great credit on his native district, and Blantyre ought to be proud to have him as their son. He could also say that the firm of William Baird & Coy., were also proud that one of their employees should have so distinguished himself as Corporal Mathieson had done. (Cheers.)

The Chairman then called upon Mr James Lawson to make the presentation. Mr Lawson said he was exceedingly proud to make this presentation to one of themselves. While in the employment Mathieson was a most capable man, a man of sound stability and great resources and when faced with sudden difficulty he could always get out of it, and hard work was no obstacle to him. The Corporal was born in Blantyre and after leaving school he started in the Priory Colliery where he had been for fourteen years. He had every qualification for being a thorough soldier, and although he was a very small man, yet he had a very large heart and he had proved that it was in the right place. Scottish valour lived to day as it did of yore. They had watched Corporal Mathieson’s career since he joined the Army and they would watch it more so in the future and might the hand that guided him in his gallant deed guide him back in the future. (Applause.)

He had now to ask their guest to accept of that gift, and hoped he would be spared to come back amongst them again. The presents consisted of a handsome gold chain and appendage (with suitable inscription) for himself and a gold wristlet watch and bangle for his wife, together with a purse of sovereigns.

The company then sang, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” Corporal Mathieson was brief in his reply and thanked the Chairman and Mr Lawson for the kind words they had spoken on his behalf. He said that on 3rd June, when in a hospital in Lancashire, he was told that his name had appeared in the “London Gazette” for bravery on the field and that he was awarded a medal; but he did not know what he was to get, and their was great jubilation in the hospital. But he was quite surprised when he learned afterwards that the Military Cross was to come his way, and he certainly was a proud man, but he did feel a bit queer when he got a letter from his late esteemed manager, asking when he would be free from hospital to accept a presentation from the officials and workmen of the pit.  When he carried out the movement he was not thinking of honour or distinction. He only thought of the saving of their men. (Cheers.)

In conclusion, Corporal Mathieson thanked the officials and the workers for their handsome gifts, both to himself and his wife. Complimentary remarks were also made by Mr Thom. At intervals in the proceedings songs were given by Messrs Park and John Sorbie, and recitations by Messrs David Pender and William Izett and melodeon selections by Mr William Mathieson

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

John Cornfield A brave Blantir man 1 of many from the town who fought in the war to end wars . I only wish the statement the war to end wars was true.
Eleanor Clark What a very brave Blantyre gentleman
Maggie Anderson What a great account of bravery by Corporal Mathieson I wonder how many of his relatives still live in Blantyre ?
Betty McLean I agree John, so people gave their lives and still war goes on.
Christine Forrest i had neighbours who lived next to us in Morven ave wonder if they were related Mr Mathieson, Bert was a clever man who worked in the railways.

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