Tributes to ‘extraordinary’ former Navy sailor Fred Matthews

Fred Matthews
Fred Matthews

Tributes have been paid to a former Navy sailor and pillar of Winslow community who was a shining light for the Royal British Legion.

Fred Matthews, who died aged 88, had a colourful life in the Navy, at Bletchley Park and with the SSAFA.

In more recent years, Fred was a keen gardener and helped blind people enjoy sport and other activities.

He will be sadly missed by wife Stella, his children, Carol, David, Christopher and Margaret, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

His funeral took place last week at St Laurence Church in Winslow where dozens of friends and family members showed their respects.

Good friend of Fred’s and current chairman of the Winslow branch of the Royal British Legion, George Langley, said: “He was a great fella, extremely kind – one of my all-time favourites.

“He was an all-round good egg and I shall miss him an awful lot.

“Fred had a brilliant brain, and he did a lot of work for the legion.

“When we needed someone to campaign for something, he was our man.

“He could have a little laugh about anything from the past.

“And he must have done something right to get a medal from the Russians.

“Fred was good fun and he would do a good turn for anyone.

“He was always very helpful and if he didn’t know the answer, he would always try and find it out.

“I couldn’t fault him – he was the perfect gentleman.”

Founder of Buckingham and Winslow Young Carers, Margot Parfitt, who worked with Fred at the Citizens Advice Bureau, described him as ‘an extraordinary man’.

She said: “He was a highly intelligent, motivated and caring family man.

“His work with the shutting down of Bletchley Park was a fascinating story.

“His determination that no ex-service person would ever feel there was nowhere else to turn, meant that he played a vital role in identifying and supporting many, many cases where hardship was overcome and ongoing support offered.”

Bletchley Park was the central site for Britain’s codebreakers during the Second World War.

In June 1941, when the Soviet Union became an ally, Winston Churchill ordered a halt to intelligence operations against it.

In December 1941, the Russian section was closed down.