Lest We Forget

1939 - 1945

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

Mathewson, William Kenneth

Captain, 2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps
Service Number
17 Feb 1919 at Dunfermline
William Galbraith Mathewson and Frances Gordon Black, Northcliff.
Date of death
18 July 1944 (Aged 25)
Grave 11 D 9 Ranville War Cemetery, Calvados, France
Other Memorials
Scottish National War Memorial (Edinburgh Castle)

Other Information

Kenneth Mathewson

He was always known by his middle name Kenneth. His father had served in the Black Watch in the First World War and during the Second commanded a searchlight battery.

In 1925 the family came to live at Northcliff, North Queensferry (former home of Bedell-Sivright the First World War casualty named earlier).

Kenneth became an Accountant in Edinburgh and joined the Territorial Army. He was mobilised at the start of the war and in due course the regiment became part of the 11th Armoured Division.

They landed in Normandy on Juno beach on 13 June 1944, a week after D-Day.

They were involved in the heavy fighting of Operation Epsom as the army attempted to move forward but became tied down in the thick hedgerow “bocage” country in the direction of Caen.

They then took part in Operation Goodwood, the attempt to outflank Caen to the east. Again they came up against fierce German resistance.

At 03:00 on 18 July they moved forward, following the more experienced 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, but were soon in deep trouble.

The enemy was making good use of anti-tank guns, as well as tanks and infantry and in the course of the day the regiment lost 37 tanks, including Kenneth’s and a large number of men including the medical officer.

As a regiment theoretically only had 78 tanks, this was a serious level of losses. In return they managed to destroy 6 Panther tanks, 2 of the older Mk IVs, 5 German self-propelled guns, and 3 of the deadly 88 mm anti-tank guns and succeeded in advancing a distance of only 5 miles.

Kenneth managed to survive the loss of his tank and made his way on foot back to the British lines with other survivors

He was expecting to obtain a fresh tank, but before he could do so, that night he was killed in a severe bombing raid, along with another officer and four men. Over 40 others were wounded in the same raid.

near Caen
2nd Fife & Forfarshire near Caen

During World War II, his sisters, Marjory and Ruth both served in the WRNS and his brother Neil was in the army.

Neil also landed in Normandy, shortly after D-Day. He later went on to command the Fife and Forfar Territorial battalion.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Scottish National War Memorial (Edinburgh Castle)



Alastair O’Riordan (nephew) – provided extracts from Regimental War Diary

Here dead we lie, Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land, From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is, And we were young.

[A.E. Housman]

When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow,
We gave our Today

[Kohima, attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds]

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