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(1924 – 2010).


Royal Artillery.


Adjutant, Arborfield Army Apprentices College, 1967 – 1973.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD (52A)



Sometimes just a snippet of information received can lead to an article which enhances our knowledge of the history of Arborfield and the lives of those who saw service there.  Tucked away in this archive there is often a hidden thread which, with gentle teasing, joins together several aspects of the site.  We have often acknowledged the special quality of those members of the permanent staff who were charged with our military and technical training and the welfare of the young lads, and later, lasses who were in their care.  This is reflected in the story of Major Russell Henry Matthews M.C. R.A. one time Adjutant of the college. 

Several links to information on external sites are used to avoid breaching copyrights.  The use of ’right click, back’ or ‘return’ will bring you back to the article.

The Editor.



Russell Henry Matthews served with 457 Light Artillery Battery (Hampshire Yeomanry), Royal Artillery, and in 1943 saw action in Algeria and Tunisia where he was awarded the Military Cross. 


Recommendation for Award for Matthews, Russell Henry, Rank: Lieutenant …


Reference: WO 373/2/126


Name  Matthews, Russell Henry

Rank:  Lieutenant

Service No:  228476

Regiment:  457 Light Battery Royal Artillery

Theatre of Combat or Operation:  North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia)

Award:  Military Cross

Date of announcement in London Gazette:  23 September 1943

Date: 1943-1944

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record

Copyright © The National Archives.



Later, he was a pilot with the R.A.F. A.O.P. 656 Squadron (1945 – 47) serving with ‘C’ Flight in Indonesia, ‘A’ Flight in Sumatra and then, in the period 1947 – 48, he formed 1914 Flight based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya….


‘1914 AOP flight, Kuala Lumpur, Cpt Mathews 1947-August 1948. Other officers Cpts Webb. Litt.Jeb Churcher.’

Copyright © Britain’s Small Wars



An appraisal of Captain Matthews in the ‘War Diary 1946’ section of the History of 656 Squadron would surely have endeared him to the Arborfield Apprentices he later supervised………



“No short chapter on the Squadron’s activities in the East Indies would be complete without reference to to the Squadron mascot, a fine white bull-terrier “Jock and his master Captain Russell Matthews, MC. RA, who commanded the Flight based at Medan.

Russell was a “Broth of a Boy” in those days, who ran an excellent Flight and was held in high esteem by all. He was a great character and very aggressive; his boast was that he had never need to put a Gunner on a charge; this, of course, was true - he had no need to charge them, he thumped them instead.

“Jock” inherited his master’s aggressiveness and logged quite an impressive score of kills among the Far East feline world; in fact, he would tackle anything on four legs regardless of size, which ran Russell into a spot of trouble when he added one of Merdan’s sacred cows to his long list of confirmed kills. “Jock” had a great loyalty to the Squadron and we were very sorry to part with him later in Malaya, where he was banished by the Station Commander of RAF Kuala Lumpur for biting the RAF doctor; we would have preferred the banishment of the Quack”.


1947 – 1949.

1914 AOP flight, Kuala Lumpur, Capt. Mathews 1947-August 1948. Other officers Captains Webb. Lt.Jeb Churcher. 656 AOP Squadron 1948/9 Taiping Malaya, Major Myolanue-Berry in command 2 flt. covering Perak in northern Malaya.

Air Support Signals Unit (ASSU), Unit provided ground control for air strikes. Based near Malaya Signal Regiment and the air strip used by the AOP Flight. Div Sign was a Red Hand on the signals blue and white halved background.

Copyright © 656 Squadron Association.




The article, in which a reader first highlighted Major Matthews, is an ‘on site’ pdf. file ‘Exercise Quickstep’ which shows him as the C.O. of ‘8 Independent Recce. Flight’ based at Idris Airport (Castel Benito), Tripoli. ‘The Editor’ had tenuous links to the flight when it was numbered AOP 1908 Squadron, which he had visited on a number of occasions before it was re-designated as ‘8 Independent Recce. Flight’   Did our paths cross? Who knows?

This was in 1958, just after the establishment of the ‘Army Air Corps’ in its current form in 1957.  Many Arborfield lads were involved from the start and so we have an ‘Army Air Corps’ section here on site.



1967 – 1973.

The same reader also noted that Major Russell held the post of Adjutant at the ‘Arborfield Army Apprentices College’ during this period, and that can be confirmed in the copies of the ‘Arborfield Apprentice’, the college magazine, that we have on site.  There are several editions of that period which show his name and position in the Staff Establishment in the opening pages.

We have a collection of photos showing activities at the Arborfield Army Apprentices College 1973 – 1975.

On completion of this posting he returned to Woolwich for a year before leaving the service.



He went into politics as a second career, becoming the very successful Agent to William Straubenzee and the very young John Redwood, both of Wokingham.

An Obituary for Major Russell Henry Matthews MC RA was published by his Alma Mater ‘Blundells’ of Tiverton, Devon, in the ‘Old Blundellian’s Club’ magazine.

Copyright © Old Blundellians Club.




Published: 1st January 2014.