STAFF SERJEANT JOHN MATLEY
ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
18TH MARCH 1917 AGE 28
BURIED: DOULLENS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION NO. 1, TANZANIA
The War Graves Commission have misread this inscription; the word is definitely readiness not 'neadeness'. It's a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet confesses to his friend, Horatio, that he has misgivings about taking part in the forthcoming fencing match. Horatio advises him to obey his instincts and withdraw. Hamlet says no, if his time to die has come then it's come, and if it hasn't then it hasn't. To Hamlet, when you die is much less important than the fact that you are prepared for death - 'the readiness is all'.
John Matley, the son of Thomas Matley a railway engine driver in Manchester, was a fitter in a locomotive department in Farnworth. He served in the Royal Garrison Artillery, his experience with locomotives giving him a valuable skill with the heavy engines that moved the guns. At the time of his death, Matley was serving with the 106th Battery Royal Field Artillery. He died in a hospital centre in Doullens.
L Matley, 31 Gorse Road, Preston chose his inscription. This was probably John Matley's brother, Luke, who at the time of the 1911 census had been a solicitors' clerk. It's an impressive choice: apposite, original and literary.