My brother, Lawrence Matthews, sent me this information regarding my Uncle Ray Matthews:
Grandad wrote the following on June 5th, 1943:
One night alone, he flew away
To meet the enemy, come what may.
Far across the desert sand
Flying and fighting, life in hand.
Thoughts of home and love ones dear
His only comfort at night to cheer
A lonely vigil through star lit sky
His thoughts of home and his last "Good-by".
Suddenly from out of dawn
No friendly hand of danger to warn,
A shattering blast of gun shot fire
A few days later, a brief cold wire.
"KILLED IN ACTION, the sad news said"
"Your brave son reported DEAD".
Anguish mingled with joyful tears.
A Heros end he had no fears.
So passed into that glorious sphere
Our brave boy, we love so dear.
God bless you son. God speed your way
Happy United we shall meet some day.
- Arthur H. Matthews
Ray was also a member of the Late Arrivals Club. As a Flight Sergeant assigned to RAF 260 Squadron he engaged in what he wrote was a "stuka party" and was "shot up and down". As near as I can figure he was in a hospital somewhere over the summer, refused the offer to return to Canada and signed up as a test pilot and re-started active duty in September 1942. For quite a few months he was test pilot for a wide variety of different planes. His last entry in the log book was May 21st, 1943, after having been reassigned to a forward base near Castel Benito a week earlier.
Air Marshal H.Edwards sent condolences to the Matthews family informing them of the sad news. Followed by Charles Power, Minister of National Defence for Air, as well as a note from King George at Buckingham Palace, that said "The Queen and I offer you our heartfelt sympathy in your great sorrow. We pray your country's gratitude for a life so nobly given in its service may bring you some measure of consolation."
His Pilot's Log Book was declassified and sent to the family on March 4th, 1948. Looking at the log book, as near as I can figure he probably just missed being declared an "Ace", where you need 5 confirmed "kills" (downing an enemy plane) and he had 4, plus a number of probables.
But he'll always be an Ace in my book. Uncle Ray seemed like he would have been a great guy, I wish I had met him. Aunt Ruth also said he was a top of his class at Quebec High in academics and an excellent boxer.