Warrant Officer Class I Ernest Alan St Aubyn Matthews
Royal Artillery, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers & Air Training Corps
The Man Little detail is known about Ernest Alan St Aubyn Matthews except that he was born on 22nd May 1919 in Colchester, where it seems he lived all of his life. He was one of three children one sister and a brother, Edmund who was born in 1923 but sadly died in 1935 aged 12. His parents were Reginald E W and Christine L nee St Aubyn. Ernest joined the Territorial Army during the late 1930s and enlisted into the Royal Artillery with service number 7593365, later transferring to the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers following their formation on 1st October 1942. He saw service in the Far East and was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence and War Medal 1939-45. He was demobilised in 1946 as a Warrant Officer Class I and further awarded the Efficiency Medal ‘Territorial’. During the first quarters of 1945 Ernest married Audrey Jean Simms at Chatham in Kent and in later life his occupation was a driver, working for a company called Churchman’s Ltd in Colchester and living at 14 Tufnell Way and later at 11 Handyfisher Court, The Common. He became involved with 308 (Colchester) Squadron Air Training Corps and on 14th September 1962 was appointed as a Warrant Officer and becoming a qualified Range Conducting Officer. He was also a member of his local Royal British Legion and Ministry of Defence Police Club. On 13th September 1974 he was awarded the Cadet Forces Medal for 12 years service with the ATC and retired on 13th September 1980 aged 61. Ernest’s wife Audrey died during late 1983 and Ernest passed away during the last quarter of 1992 aged 73.
The Story The group of medals awarded to Ernest Alan St Aubyn Matthews were acquired on E-Bay on 16th September 2014, and were of interest because of the double long service award, the fact he had been a member of the Air Training Corps as a Warrant Officer and some paperwork with the group. Little detail has been found apart from the usual trawl of Ancestry.com and with help of John Scott from the Birmingham Medal Society who has some details on recipients of the Cadet Forces Medal. It seems that Ernest left no will as one could not be located in London. Nevertheless an interesting group with a brief biography.
Ernest Matthews World War II Medal Award Certificate
Air Commodore James Baird Coward AFC RAF James Baird Coward Coward was born on 18 May 1915 in Teddington, Middlesex, England. He was educated at the independent St John's School, Leatherhead, Surrey. He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an acting Pilot Officer (on probation) on 28 January 1937.He joined No. 19 Squadron based at RAF Duxford as a pilot flying the Gloster Gauntlet, a single seat biplane. His commission was confirmed and he was regraded as a Pilot Officer on 16 November 1937. Having shown his artistic skill through caricatures of his comrades, he was tasked with painting the squadron badge on the canvas of the biplanes. However, after weeks of work, the Munich Crisis occurred and the biplanes, and their recently painted badges, were painted over in camouflage. His squadron was the first to be equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, which entered service on 4 August 1938. He was promoted to Flying Officer on 16 June 1939. With the outbreak of World War II, he was to serve as a pilot and staff officer. His squadron provided air support during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, between 27 May and 4 June 1940. On 2 June 1940, he was credited with the probable destruction of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter aircraft. During the Battle of Britain, on 31 August 1940, his squadron was scrambled from RAF Fowlmere to intercept a group of German Dornier Do 215s. He led the second section in attacking the bombers. The weapons of his Spitfire jammed and, having come under fire, the controls were damaged sending the aircraft into a dive. His left foot was almost severed from his leg. Upon bailing out, he couldn't stand the pain of the swift fall and deployed his parachute. During the now-slower decent he used the radio lead attached to his helmet to tie a tourniquet around his thigh and stem the bleeding. Upon landing in a field, he met a youth who quickly found a doctor. Within half an hour, he was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge to have his left leg amputated. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 3 September 1940. Having taken five months to recover from the surgery, he joined the personal staff of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His main duty at Chequers, the Prime minister's country residence, was to judge if reports were urgent enough to warrant waking Churchill during the night. At Chartwell, Churchill's private home, he coordinated the air surveillance to warn the prime minister of any impending attack from nearby Nazi occupied France. He was promoted to Squadron Leader (temporary) on 1 December 1941. Shortly after this, he left Churchill's staff to become an instructor at the fighter training unit based in RAF Aston Down. He went on to command the Aircraft Delivery Unit, part of Transport Command, at RAF Croydon. In 1944, he transferred to the Air Ministry where he was in charge of operational fighter training. On 5 March 1946, he was made a war substantive Squadron Leader. After the war, he was posted as an Air Attaché to Norway in 1946. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 1 May 1947 with seniority from 1 December 1942. He was promoted to Squadron Leader on 1 November 1947 with seniority from 1 August 1947 and given a permanent commission on 15 July 1948 and promoted to Wing Commander on 1 July 1952. He was promoted to Group Captain on 1 July 1958 and Air Commodore on 1 July 1962. Between September 1962 and June 1966, he was Air Officer Commanding Air Cadets and Commandant of the Air Training Corps and retired from the Royal Air Force on 8 September 1969. Upon retirement, Coward and his wife moved to Canberra, Australia. There, he built one of the territory's first passively heated homes and converted a half-acre paddock into an organic garden. He died on 25 July 2012 in Yass, New South Wales. His wife survived him and he is buried in Michelago, New South Wales, alongside the two daughters who predeceased him. Air Commodore Coward received the 1939–45 Star with the rare Battle of Britain clasp.and was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) in the 1954 New Years Honours. He married Cynthia Bayon on 29 December 1939. Together they had four daughters, two of whom predeceased him.
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Burma Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued
- Efficiency Medal: 7593365 SJT E A A MATTHEWS REME
- Cadet Forces Medal: WO E A MATTHEWS ATC
This page last updated: 21 Dec 15