55319 Driver Matthew George Munden, Royal Field Artillery
Born on 2nd February 1884 in Hudnall
Died on 26th February 1944 in West Herts Hospital, Hemel Hempstead
Matthew George Munden was born in Hudnall, then in Edlesborough Parish, the third of the 4 children of William Thomas Munden and Ann née Smith.
His older sister Nellie Jane was born on 26th March 1880, his brother William Reuben (Billy) Munden on 15th November 1881 and his sister Annie Elizabeth (Nance) on 15th June 1886.
When he was young, his family lived with his maternal grandmother Ellen Smith at 5 Hudnall. The 1891 Census records his father as an Agricultural Labourer, while Nellie, 11, William Munden, 9, Matthew, 7 and Annie, 5 were all at school.
Matthew attended Little Gaddesden School; he started as an Infant aged 3 years 7 months on 13th September 1887.
On 24th February 1896, he was one of 12 children to obtain a Labour Certificate, so he could leave school and go out to work. On 17th April 1896, he left school aged 12 years and 2 months.
The Little Gaddesden School Log Book records that, when he left school, Matthew then went to work on Church Farm. However, by 1901, 17 year old Matthew was a Blacksmith’s Striker. The family then lived at 37 Little Gaddesden. Both his father and his 19 year old brother William Munden were Farm Carters, his sister Nellie, 21, was a Domestic Housemaid while his mother and his 14 year old sister Annie were at home.
The Little Gaddesden Brass Band 5
The Little Gaddesden Brass Band was formed in 1902 and a report and statement of accounts for 1902 – 1903 has survived. To obtain funds, entertainments were performed and donations sought. Each band member paid 3d per week toward the cost of tuition. The report noted
Our balance in hand is very low, but we again rely on our many kind friends to give us their support and stick to our motto: Nil Desperandum.
Those in the Band with links to the Roll of Honour are:
- Back Row, L to R: 1. Archibald Johnson; 2. Thomas Johnson; 3. Frederick Cutler; 5. John Wibden; 6. Edward Hing; 7. Edward Pinnock (father of George Pinnock and Arthur Pinnock).
- Middle Row, L to R: 3. Arthur Johnson; 4. Sam Oakins; 6. Harry Wells (father of William Wells); 7. Walter Holland, 8. Herbert Fenn.
- Front Row, L to R: 1. Steve Oakins; 4. William Johnson; 5. Sidney Rogers.
- Under the drum: Hubert Halsey
- Band members absent from the photo also included William Fenn; the Band’s Secretary was Geoffrey Talbot.
The Family in 1911 2
In the 1911 Census, the Munden family still lived at 37 Little Gaddesden. Matthew, 27, was still a Blacksmith’s Striker on the Ashridge Estate, his father a Farm Labourer and his 29 year old brother William Munden a Farm Carter. His sisters Nellie, 31 and Annie, 24 had started their laundry at 37 Little Gaddesden, an enterprise which they then ran from the house for many years.
In early 1913, Matthew George Munden married Charlotte Georgina Tarvin in the St Pancras District of London. Charlotte had been an assistant teacher at Little Gaddesden School.
Their daughter Eileen Marian Munden was born on 6th April 1913 and baptised in the Parish of St Pancras Old Church on 4th May 1913. Matthew was a Parcel Porter (on the Railway) and their address is recorded as “57½ Charrington Street”.
A Member of the National Union of Railwaymen 8
On 22nd August 1913, 28 year old Matthew Munden was admitted to the Euston branch of the National Union of Railwaymen. He was a Porter working for the London and North Western Railway.
Matthew’s National Union of Railwaymen Membership Register entry notes that he joined the Army on 6th November 1914 and was discharged on 23rd May 1919.
His medal records show that he served in the Royal Field Artillery, Service Number 55319, initially working as a Shoeing Smith. In that role he used the skills learned in his initial civilian trade as a Blacksmith’s Striker, as recorded in his 1901 and 1911 Census returns. He served overseas in France from 19th January 1915 and, by the end of the War, he held the rank of Driver. For his War Service, Matthew was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Matthew Munden is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His unit is given as Royal Field Artillery and he is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Next to him on the Rolls is his brother William Munden, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
Post-War Life 11
After demobilisation, Matthew returned to working on the Railway. Electoral Registers show that in 1920 and 1921 he lived at 25 Riversley Road, Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton and that, by Spring 1923, his address was 62 High Street, Berkhamsted. During 1923 he moved to 99 High Street, Berkhamsted and his wife, then eligible to vote, is shown too. During 1926, Matthew and his family moved to 89 Shrublands Avenue, Berkhamsted.
Matthew ‘s 20 year old daughter Eileen died in Berkhamsted in the 3rd Quarter of 1933 and his wife Charlotte, 51, in Hemel Hempstead in the 1st Quarter of 1936. Matthew then returned to his family home, 37 Little Gaddesden.
The Second World War 3
The 1939 Register shows Matthew, a Railway Porter, his widowed father William, a retired Farm Labourer and his sisters Nellie and Annie, both Laundresses, all living at 37 Little Gaddesden.
On 26th February 1944, 60 year old Matthew George Munden of 37 Little Gaddesden died in West Herts Hospital, Hemel Hempstead. He died of
multiple injuries accidentally obtained when he was knocked down by a passing railway engine when he was lawfully crossing the line in connection with his work (as a Railway Porter).
Burial in Little Gaddesden 14
On 1st March 1944, following cremation, his ashes were buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden. His headstone also commemorates his parents Ann, who died in 1931 and William Thomas, who died in 1948.
Matthew’s sisters Nellie and Annie (Nance) lived at 37 Little Gaddesden for the rest of their lives. Annie died on 15th November 1965 aged 79 and Nellie on 23rd September 1974 aged 94.
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
5. Report and Statement of Accounts of the Little Gaddesden Brass Band 1902 – 1903
13. Copy (pdf) of the Death Certificate of Matthew George Munden
14. Little Gaddesden Burial Register 1931, 1944, 1948, 1964, 1974
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson