King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Lister, Matthew William

Captain ▪ South Staffordshire Regiment

Matthew William Lister, born on 7th February 1881, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1893. He was one of four children of Caroline and William, a jeweller, who lived at 134, Hampstead Road, Handsworth (and later at 96, Handsworth Wood Road).

(Matthew’s younger brother, Cecil, also an Old Edwardian, had a distinguished military career. He served with the South Staffordshire Regiment at the Battle of Loos (Hohenzollern Redoubt), for which he won the Military Cross. He also served at the Suez Canal and Neuville-St-Vaast, and then at Gommecourt, one of the most severe areas of fighting on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, from which he came away only “slightly wounded”. He saw further action at Buzquoy, Lens, Hulluch, and Béthune where there were heavy gas casualties, and Cecil himself was gassed on 1st May 1918. He also fought at St Quentin Canal and broke the Hindenburg Line, taking 4,000 prisoners and 80 guns, for which he won the Distinguished Service Order. As a Temporary Lieutenant- Colonel, he was involved in the pursuit of the Germans ending at Landrecies, and was mentioned in dispatches for the fifth time, also winning a bar to his DSO.)

At School, Matthew was top of his class, although his class contained only four students but he is not mentioned in the School magazines, suggesting that he did not have a noteworthy athletic career. After School, he joined the family firm, Lister and Wright Ltd, of 61, Caroline Street in the Jewellery Quarter, and was heavily involved in the City of Birmingham Cadets. He and his family were “very well-known in the Jewellery Quarter.”

In July 1915, Matthew gained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was sent to France in January 1917, and was promoted to the rank of Captain (Company Commander). He was engaged in preparations for the Spring and Summer Offensive of 1917, including the storming of Messines Ridge. On 19th July 1917 near Dickesbusch, he was killed, aged thirty-six, in his billet by a long-range, high-velocity shell. He is buried near to where he fell, in Dickesbusch New Military Cemetery. Matthew left his estate of £5,378 to his brother, Cecil (at that time a Major), and also to Colonel William Studdy Hooper.