The Airmen's Stories - F/O P G H Matthews
Peter Gerald Hugh Matthews was born in Liverpool on 8th May 1919, the son of a veterinary surgeon.
He attended Quarry Bank School and Liverpool College and planned to enter his father's profession.
He was scheduled to enter Liverpool University in 1941.
Matthews joined the RAF on a short service commission on 23rd August 1937 and began his initial training at 6 E&RFTS Sywell. He was posted to 5 FTS Sealand on 24th October 1937.
After completing his training he was posted to No. 1 Air Armament School at Manby on 6th June 1938 as a staff pilot on drogue-towing duties. On 20th August 1939 Matthews was posted to No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere. He went to France with the squadron at the outbreak of war.
On 7th December 1939 Matthews wrote off a Hurricane when he made a forced-landing at St. Dizier after his engine seized.
Matthews destroyed a Me110 and possibly another on 16th May 1940 and destroyed a He111 and possibly another on 5th June. The squadron returned to Tangmere on 17th June 1940 and on that day Matthews shared a He111 over St. Nazaire.
On 31st July he damaged a Do17, on 15th August damaged a Ju88, on the 16th destroyed a Me110 and on the 30th damaged a He111. He was appointed 'B' Flight Commander on 10th November 1940 and on 29th April 1941 he was posted to 52 OTU Debden as 'C' Flight Commander.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 13th May 1941).
Matthews was given command of 74 Squadron at Llanbedr on 3rd November 1941. He took it to the Middle East in April 1942 and led it until 10th July. It had no aircraft during Matthews time of command. He damaged a Ju87 on 3rd July 1942, flying a Hurricane of 73 Squadron.
Matthews took command of 145 Squadron in the Western Desert on 30th August 1942. He damaged a Me109 on 1st September, got a probable Mc202 on the 2nd, destroyed a Me109 on the 11th, shared a Ju52 on the 29th, probably destroyed a Me109 on 21st October, destroyed another on the 23rd and shared one on the 27th.
During an engagement with Me109s and Stukas on 3rd November, Matthews was shot down and baled out into the Mediterranean. After four hours in his dinghy he was picked up by an ASR launch.
At the end of the month Matthews went to HQ ME in the Delta, and was posted as CGI to 71 OTU Carthago, south of Port Sudan. In April 1943 the unit moved to Ismailia.
Matthews returned to operations on 15th August 1943, taking command of 111 Squadron at Panebianco, Sicily. He destroyed a Fiesler Storch on 2nd December. Matthews was injured in a motor accident in December, was taken to hospital in North Africa and afterwards returned to the UK, where he was posted to Bentley Priory as Tactics 2.
In the post-war years Matthews was Air Attache in Prague for three years and Permanent President Courts Martial for two.
He retired from the RAF on 8th May 1966 as a Wing Commander, retaining the rank of Group Captain.
He received the Queens Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air in January 1956.
Matthews died on 2nd October 1991.