East and West Africa Medal 1887-1900, 1 clasp , Gambia 1894, F. Matthews. (Petty officer 2Cl. H.M.S. Raleigh, Royal Navy. GVF/EF


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Francis Joseph Matthews was born at Needwood, Staffordshire on 4 September 1869. Enlisting on 31 August 1885 with the rank of Boy Class II and the service number 134796, he served aboard the School Ship Impregnable until 11 September 1885. Having transferred to H.M.S. Lion he was promoted Boy Class I on 29 September 1886 and Ordinary Seaman on 4 September 1887. Joining H.M.S. Swiftsure for her spell as Flagship of the Pacific Station from 24 April 1888, he was promoted Able Seaman on 1 February 1889. After a brief period aboard the Gunnery Training ship Cambridge from 4 October 1890-2 October 1891 he joined H.M.S. Raleigh. Promoted Leading Seaman aboard that ship on 1 January 1892 and later Petty Officer Class II on 25 June 1893. The next year Raleigh, as part of the West Africa Squadron took part in the Gambia Expedition 1894 intended to supress the slave trade in the region. One column of the expedition was commanded by Captain Gamble of the Raleigh and a good many of the shore party were officers and marines from that ship. This column came into trouble when they were ambushed at Madini Creek, eighteen men were killed including First Lieutenant Arnold and Lieutenant Hervey, both of the Raleigh and forty-six were wounded including Captain Gamble. Matthews survived the expedition and left Raleigh on 23 February 1895. Aside from a brief period of service aboard H.M.S. Colossus from 1 June 1895-23 February 1898 Matthews served ashore or at training establishments until 25 August 1901 when he joined H.M.S. Blenheim. This ship was, at the time, serving in China with the aim of supporting the Allied Powers during the Boxer Revolt. While here Matthews was promoted Petty Officer Class I on 1 October 1901, he was still serving aboard when the ship visited Nagasaki in 1902, leaving her on 22 June 1904. Serving ashore from 23 June he soon fell ill and died on 27 October 1904 of a ‘Disease of the Urinary System’.