Saturday, 19 August 2017

MATSON, Norman Leslie

Petty Officer, Royal Navy
Service No: DASRI 189504
Died: 01/09/1950
Age: 45

Norman Leslie Matson was born in Belfast on the 17th November 1903. He was the son of Charles Matson, a contable in the RIC, and his wife Jean Matson (nee McIlwrath). The family then living in Ulsterville Gardens moved to Madrid Street where they are recorded in the 1911 census. Norman's father, now a sergeant, later attained the rank of Head Constable.

After school Norman joined the Belfast and County Down Railway working for 14 years in the office of the general manager.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Norman joined the Merchant Navy and later volunteered for the Royal Navy.

In 1940 Norman was serving on board HMS Carnarvon Castle. Built by Harland and Wolff, the Carnarvon Castle was a passenger ship operated by the Union-Castle Mail line. Requisitioned by the Admiralty in September 1939 while in Cape Town, she was converted into an armed merchant cruiser and commissioned in October 1939.

On the 5th December 1940, while off the coast of Brazil, she encountered the German auxiliary cruiser Thor. In a five-hour running battle with her the Carnarvon Castle suffered heavy damage, sustaining 27 hits causing 4 dead and 27 wounded. She put into Montevideo for repairs, and was repaired with steel plate reportedly salvaged from the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee.

Bellringers of St. Thomas's Church, Belfast, who took part
in the victory peal on Sunday. Mr. David Ireland
(hon. conductor) is in centre foreground, and to the extreme
right is Leading Steward Norman Leslie Matson,
home on leave from the Merchant Navy.
Larne Times, 19th November 1942
For his part in the action Norman was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Norman was a keen bellringer and was a member of St. Thomas's Bell-Ringers Society. On the morning of Sunday, 15th November 1940, across the United Kingdom a "firing peal" of bells was rung in honour of the first offensive victory by the Allied forces. Norman who was home on leave at the time, was given the honour of the Society by being assigned the biggest bell, the tenor.

MATSON – September 1, 1950, at Hospital (as result of war services, patiently borne), Petty Officer Norman Leslie Matson, D.S.M., loved son of Jeannie and the late Charles Matson. Funeral from his residence, 24, Camden Street, on Monday, at 2-30 p.m., to Bangor New Cemetery. Very deeply regretted. Thy will be done.
Belfast Newsletter, 2nd September 1950

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