Even by the standards of the time, Matthew came from large family. The 1901 Census reveals that he was one of nine children, ranging in age from 20 to just 11 months. He had been born in Stubshaw Cross, about a mile away from the Lancashire town of Ashton In Makerfield. At the Census, the family was living at 164 Bolton Road, in Ashton. The head of the household was Matthew's father, 47 year old Eli, who worked in the local mines as a coal hewer. His wife, Alice was 42. The two eldest children, James (20) and Isaac (17) were also miners. The other children were Mary (15), Alice (10), Matthew (12), Emma (8), Eli (6), Beatrice (4) and Ada (11 months).
Matthew enlisted into the army at Ashton and it is not known if he ever lived in the Stockport area. He was married and, after the War, his widow was living at 14 Stockport Road, Woodley. Only her initial, "P", is now known, from Matthew's entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Debt of Honour Register. They may have lived together in Woodley or she may have returned to her home village after his death. She will certainly have been the person who ensured his commemoration on the Bredbury War Memorial.
Regimental records published after the war show that Matthew was not killed outright but died of wounds he had received. It is not possible to be absolutely sure when he received them, but the Cemetery where he was buried was, at the time, used by several field hospitals (Casualty Clearing Stations). Men did not spend much time at a CCS, being passed on to a military hospital with full facilities as soon as the man's condition was stabilised. However, Matthew's Battalion was in action the day he died and it is most likely that this is when he wounded.
On the 23rd, the Battalion moved to Solesmes in readiness for an attack the following day. The village is approximately 10 kilometres east of the French town of Cambrai. They were billeted in houses near the village church. The Battalion's War Diary notes that the weather was wet and cold.
Early the following morning, they moved to positions in front of Romeries (wrongly spelt Romiers in the Diary) and, at 12.10pm, attacked. They quickly captured their objective - a sunken road, 800 yards from the village. At 14.30 they continued their attack, taking another objective running parallel to the St Georges River, on the eastern side of Escarmain. Other troops now overlapped them and, later in the day, they dug in on a line between Escarmain and Beaudidnes.
17 men had been killed and 103, including Matthew, had been wounded. After receiving treatment from the Battalion's own medical officer, just behind the front line, Matthew will have been evacuated the 20 kilometres to hospital at Awoingt, where he died