Matthew Kavanagh

Matthew Kavanagh

Personal Details

Born in Nantwich, Cheshire in 1885, the eldest son of Patrick and Emma Kavanagh. Husband of Mary (nee Green) Kavanagh, of 49 Rowley Street, Stafford, Staffordshire, and father of Edward, Henry Patrick and Pat.

Matthew had been employed by Higgins & Son as a Saddler before joining the Army.

Military Details

Regiment : 7th (Service) Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)

Rank : Lance Corporal
Service Number : 35714

Killed accidentally; France (Clearing Munitions) 20th December 1918 Age 33

Medals and Awards
Matthew was awarded the Campaign Medals (British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal)

Campaign Medals

Great War History Hub Whitchurch Shropshire Medals Front Image

The British War Medal (also known as 'Squeak') was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920. Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal (also known as 'Wilfred') was issued by each of the allies. It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory. Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of The 1914 Star or The 1914/1915 Star (also known as 'Pip') also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

Further Information

Whitchurch Herald 4th January 1919

Report in the Whitchurch Herald 4th January 1919 of a letter received by Mrs. Kavanagh regarding the death of her son, Matthew Kavanagh

"The deepest sympathy is felt with Mrs & Mrs Kavanagh of Wrexham Road, Whitchurch. in the sad news of an accident to their son, Corporal Matthew Kavanagh of the Buffs, which has proved to be fatal to the gallant soldier who died on 20th December 1918, age 33. Corporal Kavanagh previous to the war was in the employment of Mrs Wycherely where he served his apprenticeship. He served in France and was in the last battle of Mons. On December 18th he was engaged with other soldiers in clearing an ammunition dump, when a comrade accidently dropped a bomb which exploded injuring Matthew seriously in the thigh. He was taken to Hospital and died three days later. His home was in Stafford, where he was in business. He leaves a widow, and 3 children"

Whitchurch Herald 4th January 1919

Staffordshire Advertiser 11th January 1919

Report in the Staffordshire Advertiser 11th January 1919 regarding the death of Matthew Kavanagh, titled 'Stafford Soldiers Killed on Salvage Work'

"Mrs. Kavanagh of 49, Rowley Street, Stafford, has received intimation of the death of her husband Lance Corporal Matthew Kavanagh of the 7th East Kent Regiment (the Buffs) who was severely wounded in the thigh on December 17 of last year by the accidental explosion of a German shell whilst engaged in salvage work near Cambrai, in France, and succumbed to his injuries three days later. It appears that several men were killed and others wounded by the same explosion. Corporal Kavanagh's wounds were dressed and he was sent to a casualty clearing station. His condition was critical, and he gradually became weaker and passed peacefully away. Sympathetic letters have been received by Mrs. Kavanagh from Sister A. Duncan, in charge of the hospital, and Lieutenant Greenwood, the officer commanding the company, who wrote:- "It is fearfully sad to think your husband should lose his life during armistice. He died like a man. He was an excellent fellow, and I shall miss him greatly."
Corporal Kavanagh who leaves a widow and three young children, the eldest only eight years old, was a native of Whitchurch, Salop. He had been in the employ of Messrs. Higgins and Son, saddlers, Gaol Road, Stafford, for nine years. He had had two years and seven months' service in the war. He enlisted in the Army Service Corps and worked at his trade for some time. He was then transferred to the A.O.C. and later to the East Kent Regiment. He has a brother, Able Seaman John Kavanagh, who has just been demobilized from the Navy. Mrs. Kavanagh has two brothers and two brothers-in-law serving."

Staffordshire Advertiser 11th January 1919

If you can provide any further information on Matthew Kavanagh please get in touch by leaving a comment below, using our Contact Form or by calling in to Whitchurch Heritage Centre.

Information provided by Terry Evanson Whitchurch, Shropshire and Whitchurch Museum and Archives

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