Isaac was born in the Reddish area and is thought to have lived all his life in that part of Stockport until he enlisted into the army. The 1901 Census confirms his parents were John Matkin, a cotton dyer and Margaret Matkin. The family was then living at 13 Clark Street. Seven year old Isaac was one of seven children; the others being Edith (then 17), Rhoda (15), Jannett (9), Thomas (5) and George (3).
The family worshipped at St Peter's Church and Isaac was a past member of the Church Lads brigade. He worked as a piecer at the cotton mill of the Reddish Spinning Company, Houldsworth Street (and is commemorated on the Company's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour).
In the autumn of 1914 Isaac travelled into Manchester and joined the army, enlisting into the 20th Battalion. This was the fifth of the so-called "Pals Battalions" raised by the Regiment and he was assigned to No. 14 Platoon in "D" Company. Some details of the recruitment and training of the Pals can be found here.
On 26 August 1916, Isaac and his comrades prepared to start another tour of duty in the front line. They moved forward from billets at Dernacourt and relieved the 12th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment, in the trenches opposite Ginchy, ready to take part in an attack the following day. The unpublished Battalion history, held by the Regimental Archives, takes up the story:-
"During the move up in the dark, "B" Company and the Headquarters Company had thirty men killed owing to an enemy 5.9 shell dropping on a stack of Mills bombs, stored in a dump by the roadside. The place became a shambles as, owing to the Hun fire, lights could not be used and searchers had to grope in the dark and this was not the end of their troubles owing to counter orders from a higher authority, only one company got into the line, the remainder being scattered and the Battalion was not really collected together again until the following day. And then, owing to bad weather, the attack on Ginchy had to be postponed. During the night of 26/27th and all day on the 27th the enemy heavily bombarded the line and the trenches which were poor to begin with were soon almost unrecognisable. New trenches were dug during the nights 27 - 29th but the enemy bombardment was almost continuous and the Battalion suffered many casualties....."
Isaac's officer wrote to his parents saying that, during the bombardment, he had been mortally wounded by the explosion of a shell and died 20 minutes later. "His death is regretted by all the Company. He was one of the best. He was a very brave and good soldier and always a cheerful worker and attentive to duty."
When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, John and Margaret Matkin had moved to 40 East Street, in the King Street West area of Stockport.
The Stockport War Memorial also commemorates Alfred Matkin. His father originated from Bakewell, as did John Matkin and it seems reasonable to assume that they were related.