Rogart Heritage

Archaeology & Heritage

Private Donald Angus Matheson

In February 1942 the British Commander surrendered Singapore to the Japanese. As a consequence around 22,000 Australians, amongst many others, became prisoners of war. Private Donald Angus Matheson was one of those men.

Born on 27 February 1908, in Rogart he was the son of William Matheson and Esther née MacKay of Tannachy. He emigrated to Australia whilst still in his teens, and worked as a farmhand. He was known as Donnie to his friends in Rogart and Don in Australia.

Donnie Matheson and friends in Fremantle

In 1940 Don married Gwladys May Morgan whose family were farming around Tammin. She was one of 6 girls and 2 sons.

Private Matheson WX9296 voluntarily enlisted on 30 October 1940 into the Australian 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion and was employed as a driver in C Company. After his capture at Singapore Don was selected to work on the Burma end of Burma-Thai Railway with ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Battalion.

Conditions on the railway and the associated camps were atrocious and Don died from cardiac beri-beri on Friday 10 March 1944 aged 36, at Aungganaung 105km Camp in Burma (modern day Mayanmar). He was buried in Thanbyuzayat war cemetery, Plot A3, Row B, Grave 3 and his name is also inscribed on Rogart War Memorial.

When his death was announced in the Australian newspapers his widow, Gwladys, wrote ‘His Duty Nobly Done’.

Private Matheson is commemorated on Rogart war memorial, the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra, the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle and the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat, Victoria.

Acknowledgements to the work of http://2nd4thmgb.com.au/, Ian MacKay, Jean Sutherland and Jenny Mackay.