Written by Norman Cramp, Director Darwin Military Museum.
There is some confusion as to Matthew’s date and place of enlist, as one form on his file, his ‘Application To Enlist In the Australian Imperial Force’, records he enlisted at Darwin on 18th September 1915, while another form states he was enlisted, or at least sworn in at sea aboard the HMAT Demostheues (Ship A64) while enroute to England. This form records he enlisted at Brisbane on 20th October 1915, however, that has been ruled through and the details of him being enlisted at sea written in.
A Filipino Volunteer
He stood five feet and five inches tall and was said to be ‘Dark Skinned’, with dark brown eyes, black air and of the Roman Catholic faith. Interestingly, his weight was not recorded on his Attestation to Enlist paper. He was tattooed with a large heart and flowers on his chest and crossed flags and anchors on his forearm(s).
It was a hefty financial penalty that resulted in Matthew being much the poorer when he arrived in England, but, as Australians do, his mates took up a collection (‘sent the hat around’) so that he could spend his four days’ disembarkation leave with them in London.
A bout of illness
He was admitted to hospital again on 15th December suffering mumps and again on 20th December suffering from tonsillitis. On 20th February 1917 he embarked for England on the Hospital Ship (HS) Dieppe, where he was admitted to the Norfolk Hospital for observation.
Following his discharge from hospital, Matthew was granted furlough in England from 6th March to 21st March and was transferred from the 47th Battalion to the 69th Battalion AIF on 1st April.
Belgium: His final resting place
His lost grave
The OIC replied that the war service badge could not be issued ‘as the issue of Nearest Female Relative and the In Memoriam Badges ceased on 31.3.22’. It is not clear as to why the daughter Mary, through her aunt, was requesting the badge as Fanny (Matthew’s nearest female relative) was still alive and there is no record on Matthew’s military service file as to whether or not the child received any gratuity or pension. It is more (highly) likely it was paid to his wife Fanny, who had been given his war medals, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, in June 1922.
His parents lived out the rest of their lives in Darwin with his mother dying in a drowning accident at Fort Hill wharf in/around 1921 and his father passing away in February 1931. In April 1939, Matthew’s only daughter, Mary, passed away in the Darwin Hospital. She had married Mr. Stephen Cigobia and together they had produced six children, all of whom were living when she passed.