Born: April 26th 1914
Died: May 29th 1940
Michael was the eldest child of The Very Reverend Walter Matthews, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and his wife, Margaret Bryan. He was born at Wandsworth and had a younger brother and sister.
Educated at Westminster, he Matriculated in 1933 having been awarded the Westminster Classics Scholarship. A keen cricketer, he was a right-handed batsman who played for the University from 1934-37. He graduated with a 2nd in Classics Mods and a 1st in Lit. Hum in 1935 and a 1st in Jurisprudence in 1939.
He read for the Bar at Gray’s Inn and married Loveday Elizabeth Abbott at Wallingford, shortly after the outbreak of the war.
He was serving as a Sub-lieutenant on HMS Greyhound when he was killed in a bombing raid off Dunkirk on May 29th 1940.
He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial Panel 44, Column 2.and on the Memorial at Gray’s Inn.
Dean Matthews was the son of banker who started life as a draper’s assistant. He was educated at Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell and King's College London. In a world in which a public school and Oxbridge education had been prerequisites for advancement in the Church of England, he was in the forefront of broadening perceptions about class mobility and the merits and achievements of ‘Redbrick’ universities. He became Dean of St Paul’s in 1934, having been appointed an Honorary Chaplain to the King in 1931. He was widely respected as an Anglo-Catholic theologian, writer and Professor of Theology at King’s College.
He made many broadcasts during the War. At the back of these was his own deep personal tragedy compounded by the numerous losses of old students.
In his Autobiography ‘Memories and Meanings’:
'On one of the nights when few Londoners had any sleep and many had horrifying adventures fighting fires, rescuing bomber citizens from collapsed houses and searching ruins for the dead and injured – in short one of the really bad nights in hell – I had to ‘Lift Up Hearts’ in my regular radio broadcast from the Cathedral. I remember thinking ‘my little address is quite inadequate and I am on edge because I have been scared.
So I prayed that my voice would sound calm and confident. Some ten years later, someone who had been acting as a fireman at that time commented “The last time I heard your voice was after one of the worst nights of the Blitz. I was absolutely done and despairing but you sounded so calm and confident that I was quite pepped up”.
‘I now come to the great sorrow of our lives, the event after which nothing was quite the same. Our eldest child, Michael Harrington Matthews, Sub-Lieutenant R.N.V.R. was killed on H.M.S Greyhound, the destroyer which was the first to reach Dunkirk, on May 28th, 1940. The little boy who had clung to his mother Margaret in 1916 during a Zeppelin raid crying, ‘But you aren’t frightened, Mummy, are you?’ was shattered by a bomb from a German plane as he stood on the bridge of H.M.S Greyhound in 1940.
Margaret and he were close together. They were in many ways alike and understood each other. Her words when the telegram of death came were characteristic of both: ‘Well, poor boy, he can’t disappoint himself now’.
Loveday Matthews remarried in 1947. She was the second wife of Jean Baptiste de Manio, better known as the famous broadcaster, Jack de Manio. He died in 1988 and she died in 1999.
Registered Charity Number: 1143423