Lieutenant Christopher Alec Wright Mathew

Royal Armoured Corps, Service number 130578

Born: March 22nd 1918
Died:  May 25th 1944

Kit was the elder son of Philip Walter Mathew and his wife Agnes Gwendolen Grant-Cook. He was born in Colombo, Ceylon. His father [1884-1974] who had been born in Heavitree, Devon was a doctor. His mother [1890-1971] was the daughter of Alexander J. Grant-Cook [1860-1912]. Born in Ross-shire, Grant-Cook had spent some time in New York, later going to Ceylon as a Tea Merchant and founding a dynasty of tea planters.  [He shot himself on May 8th 1912, whilst travelling on the train from Colombo to Kandy.] Philip and Agnes married in Colombo in 1914.

Kit was educated at Lancing from September 1931 until July 1936. He was in Seconds House and was a member of the Football XI in 1935, the Tennis Team in 1936 and was a Cadet Officer in the Officer Training Corps. He gained his School Certificate in 1934 and was appointed as a House Captain, Head of House, Prefect and Head of School in 1935. He Matriculated in 1936. He spent the summer of 1937 in Ceylon, returning to England in September. On the manifest, he described himself as a student and his address at 26 King Street, S.W.1.

At the outbreak of war he went for training at the Officer Cadet Training Unit at Sandhurst and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He transferred from the infantry to the Royal Armoured Corps as a Lieutenant on the 28th of December 1942 where he was in the Provost Company, Armoured Division. 

The 51st Royal Tank Regiment landed at Naples on the 18th of April 1944, moving inland, in their Churchill tanks, to Lucera near Foggia where they joined the 1st Canadian Division. On the 12th of May they crossed the River Gari and joined the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade prior to their joint attack on the Adolf Hitler Line.   
At 6am on the morning of the 23rd of May 1944 the battalion (less B Squadron) moved forward behind an artillery barrage with infantry of Canadian 2nd Brigade following close behind them. The tanks managed to silence all of the enemy machine gun fire but during a fierce engagement they lost a number of tanks and their crews. At 12.15pm they withdrew to rearm and refuel while the Canadian infantry completed the second phase of the attack without serious further opposition.

The 51st lost 14 tanks and had 30 men killed in the attack with many more being wounded.

Kit was killed on May 25th

He is buried at Cassino War Cemetery Plot II Row K Grave 13

His name is on the Roll of Honour at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

In his obituary in The Times, his parents who were living at Cranford, 2 Arundel Road, Eastbourne, requested, “Please no letters except from his friends. Ceylon papers please copy.”