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17994 Rifleman Julius George Mattson – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Julius George Mattson was born in Oamaru on 9th October 1883[i] the third of eleven children born to Sarah Ann (nee Tripp) and Frederick (Fred) Julius Godfray Mattson.  Frederick was Swedish and had ‘jumped ship’ in 1876 from the
Ocean Mail when she was in Bluff Harbour.[ii] Fred later changed the family name from Mattsson.[iii]  The family moved from the South Island after the birth of Julius settling in the Takapau / Waipukurrua region by 1885 with the birth of the couple’s third child Petronella Jane Kazia Mattson’s birth recorded as Takapau. The couple moved later to the Palmerston North area. [iv]

Julius George Mattson and his older brother Frank are listed as bushmen in the 1905 electoral roll.  In 1909 Julius married Eva May Ward. Eva May Ward was an older widow with a eight year old son, Anthony Cahill.[v] The family had moved to Porirua by August 1914 as Julius’s younger brother James, when enlisting ed in the Main Body of the NZEF. gives him as
his next of kin, living in Porirua.

On 28th March 1916 the Evening Post, Wellington carried a list of men called up to make up the numbers for the
14th Reinforcements. J G Mattson is listed and entered camp in B Company, 14th Reinforcements as 17994 Private
Mattson. Private Mattson is listed as a married man working in the Public Works Department, Porirua.
On 14th April 1916 the Evening Post recorded:[vi]

            ‘The employees of the Public Works Department, Porirua, met on Wednesday to bid
            farewell to a later employee Mr J. G. Mattson who has joined the 14th Reinforcements.
            Mr R. A. Powell, overseer, on behalf of the employees presented a wristlet watch suitably
            engraved and a smoking companion. Mr Mattson’s health was drunk, and hearty wishes
            were exchanged for his safe return.’

Private Mattson was transferred on 2nd May 1916 to the New Zealand Army Service Corp (ASC) in the Supply Depot, Featherston remaining with the ASC until 30th Jan 1917 when he was made a Probational Corporal and transferred to
B Company 23rd Reinforcements.  On 4th April 1917 Private Mattson sailed for England as part of G Company, 24th Reinforcements.

On arrival in England the reinforcements were marched in the Sling Military Camp on 11th June 1917 where
Private Mattson was placed in D Company, 5th Reserve Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade and became
Rifleman Mattson. There was a period away from the front lines for the
Brigade following Messines and the Ypres Salient as preparations were
made for the next series of attacks on the German positions. However
Private Mattson was admitted to hospital on 27th October 1917 with
influenza initially recorded as mild this was later amended to severe.
When Private Mattson had recovered sufficiently he was evacuated on
23rd November 1917 to the Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital in
England.

                           NZ Rifle Brigade in rest camps September 1917      

Private Mattson was finally discharged for service on the 21st
January 1918 but was admitted again to the London hospital on 6th
February 1918 with Tachycardia. Tachycardia is a common type of
heart rhythm problem which displays as rapid heart rate. Private
Mattson was treated and then returned to the Hornchurch
Convalescent Hospital remaining there until 13th April 1918 when he
was sent to the Discharge Depot at Torquay. A medical board would have examined Private Mattson and determined that he was unfit for active service.

Private Mattson was repatriated from Liverpool, England on 1st May 1918 arriving in New Zealand on 15th June 1918. Private Mattson was given treatment in New Zealand but was finally discharged on 27th August 1918 as ‘no longer fit for active service on account of Myalgia Bronchitis.’

Julius returned to civilian life the military files indicate that he was moving to Woodland, Naenae Road, Lower Hutt where
in 1919 the electoral roll list him as a farmer[vii].

Julius and his family moved to Otorohanga, possibly the Tahaia Settlement which was set up under the Discharged
Soldiers Act, as Julius’s medals were sent to him there in 1923. The family were still in Ototohanga as Julius is listed in
the 1928 electoral roll as a farmer at Kio Kio.

Julius and Eva moved by the mid 30”s to the Auckland region where Julius is noted as being a ‘saw doctor.’

Julius George Mattson died in Auckland on 12th August 1965.

Notes
Frederick (Fred) Julius Godfray Mattson is listed in official documents under a number of variations of names.
Julius’s brother 6/915 Private James Albert Mattson served with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli and was killed on the Western Front on 1st August 1916.

References
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
NZ BDM
Paperspast Online
My Heritage family pages
Ancestry ; family pages
The Official History of the NZ Rifle Brigade
NZ Electoral Rolls

Photos
NZ Rifle Briagde men in rest camp September 1917: Royal RSA collection 

[i]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 17994 Rifleman Julius George Mattson
[ii] Unisource Jennifer O’Connor family tree Julius George Mattson
[iii]  My Heritage family pages
[iv]  Deaths, 20th April 1904, Oamaru Mail.
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files> 17994 Rifleman Julius George Mattson
[vi] General items, 14th April 1916
[vii] Electoral Rolls 1905-06   
  
6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles parade August 1914