In spite of the fairly unusual surname, there is some confusion over the identity of George Matkin whose name is commemorated on the Stockport War Memorial, amongst those serving with the Cheshire Regiment. It appears that two men of this name lived in the town and served with the Regiment. It has not been possible to establish why either of them might be commemorated, as neither are listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission , or the Roll of Honour of the Cheshires. It has not been possible to identify when either of the men might have died – whether during the War or some time after it ended.
Both appear to have survived the War. An examination of the Absent Voters List for 1918 shows one man living at 114 Ince Street and was then still serving with the 12th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment with a service number of 16198. He had enlisted on 7 September 1914 and had gone overseas on 6 September 1915. He was demobilised on 25 March 1919
More documentation exists about the other man and he is, possibly, the more likely candidate for the man commemorated on the memorial. In March of 1914, several months before the War started, he joined the Territorial Force – the part time soldiers of the local 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. His service number was 1644.
An examination of the 1901 Census indicates that his family originated from the Bakewell area of Derbyshire, but had moved to the Reddish area some years before to work in the local cotton industry. The Census shows that George’s father, John, had married Margaret locally, in the spring of 1891. By 1914, the family was living at 45 Bann Street, Reddish and George was working as a hatter for T & W Lees Ltd. His army medical inspection shows him to have stood just over 5’ 4” – short even for those days – and in good physical health.
When War was declared on 4 August 1914, the Territorials were mobilised and the Battalion went overseas on active service 8 November. Many of the Cheshires were simply unfit for the rigours of trench warfare and George was amongst those who were returned home, arriving back on 22 January 1915. He was posted to the reserve Battalion – the 3/6th Cheshires – and remained in the UK with them until 27 September 1916 when he was finally discharged from the army after having been wounded.
George’s brother, Isaac, was killed in action on 27 August 1916. The Stockport Memorial also commemorates Alfred Matkin. His father was also born in Bakewell so it is reasonable to presume he was probably George’s cousin.