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April 24, 2019

Ted Matthews, the last living ANZAC from the Gallipoli landing

On ANZAC Day we remember “the originals”, the men who fought for King and Country in the First World War – men like Ted Matthews. Ted was a resident of “The War Vets” Village at Narrabeen (now RSL ANZAC Village). He was one of the last men to be evacuated from Gallipoli in 1915 and one of the last surviving ANZACs.

Ted’s memory is upheld in the RSL LifeCare’s Remembering the War Vets publication and by Patti Page, former Manager, video below.

Ted Matthews, n180, 1st Division Signals, First World War

Resident of “The War Vets” ANZAC Village

Albert Edward Matthews (Ted) was born on the 11th of November 1896. On 29th September 1914, seven weeks after war was declared Ted signed up to fight, innocently believing that the war would be “fun”. Ted joined a signals division and sailed from his homeland on 22 December, landing at Gallipoli on 25th April, 1915.

His was a baptism of fire – struck in the chest by shrapnel on his first day on that fateful beach, surviving only because the projectile met a thick notebook in his breast pocket. “The AIF was the best infantry in the world. Mind you, we had to keep our heads down too.” Ted was one of the last soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli, under cover of darkness, on the 19th December 1915.

“He had a cranky old exterior but was lovely on the inside … once you got to know the guy. He hated politicians but hated war even more.”

Now joined with the Australian 4th Division in France and Belgium, Ted was sent to all the hottest spots. “I rode a horse for three hours then marched for nineteen to get to Villers-Bretonneux.” The actions of the Division are today memorialized at Bellenglise.

After the war Ted returned to his trade as a carpenter. He married Stella and they had two daughters. The Depression years had a much greater effect on him than the War, “I only had myself to look after in the War. I had a family in the Depression”. He would walk from his home in Belmore to Circular Quay to register for work, then to Railway Square to collect food parcels twice weekly, a distance of over twenty kilometres.

Later in life Ted moved to the United States to live with his daughter and her family. But as one of his nurses, Patti Page, said “He wanted to come home, he wanted to die at home. So they packed him up and came back. Ted was quite reserved. I can see him in the room now … he was a real dinky die Aussie. All the men loved him, they warmed to him straight away.”

Ted’s Welfare Officer in the Village, John Cameron, says “He had a cranky old exterior but was lovely on the inside … once you got to know the guy. He hated politicians but hated war even more.”

When Ted turned 100 he was the last living ANZAC from the Gallipoli landing. He died peacefully in his sleep, 9th December 1997, aged 101.

As written by Daniel Nemtsev and Matthew Howard, Year 10 students, Pittwater House School

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