Lionel Colin Matthews, GC, MC was an Australian Army officer in World War II. Matthews served as the brigade signals officer of the 27th Brigade during the Malayan campaign and the Battle of Singapore. At the surrender of Singapore he became a prisoner-of-war and was awarded the Military Cross for displaying a high standard of courage, energy and ability while maintaining communications under fire.
About Lionel Matthews in brief
Lionel Colin Matthews, GC, MC was an Australian Army officer in World War II. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest award for heroism or courage not in the face of the enemy, that could be awarded to a member of the Australian armed forces at the time. Matthews served as the brigade signals officer of the 27th Brigade during the Malayan campaign and the Battle of Singapore. At the surrender of Singapore he became a prisoner-of-war and was awarded the Military Cross for displaying a high standard of courage, energy and ability while maintaining communications under fire. He established an intelligence network, collecting information, weapons, medical supplies and radio parts, and made contact with organisations outside the camp. In July 1943, members of his organisation were betrayed, and Matthews and others were arrested, beaten, tortured and starved by their Japanese captors. Matthews refused to provide any information on his organisation or its members to the Kenpeitai, and was executed by firing squad at Kuching, Sarawak, in March 1944. Matthews wore a clipped moustache and was nicknamed \”The Duke\” because of his physical resemblance to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester. He died in hospital in Melbourne in August 1944. He is buried in the Adelaide suburb of Stepney, South Australia, with his wife Ann Elizabeth née Jeffery, and their son Lionel David. The couple had a daughter, Lorna, and a son, Lionel David, who was born in 1946.
Matthews was married to Myrtle Lane at St Matthew’s Church, Kensington, Victoria, on 26 December 1935. He trained as a signalman in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve before joining the Militia in April 1939. He transferred to the 8th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force after the outbreak of WW II. After the war, he was promoted to lieutenant on 18 January 1940. Matthews underwent training in Victoria and later in New South Wales, including a course at the Army School of Signals. He served in Malaya in August 1941 and was posted as the signals officer for the 27st Brigade, which arrived in Malayan in August. In December 1941, the Japanese invaded Malaya, and the 27rd Brigade was committed to the Allied resistance in the west. The brigade was moved to the west where it was joined by several British units to create an ad hoc formation called the West Indian Force. As the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula, the Australian force was reorganised and the 22nd Brigade assumed control of the eastern part of Johore, where it held back the Japanese. In January 1942, the brigade moved to Jemaluades, the only division of only two brigades tasked with securing the east part of the Johore Peninsula. It was then transferred back to the east to take part in the defence of the west coast of India.