PRIVATE JOHN MATUCHA
EAST KENT REGIMENT (THE BUFFS)
29TH SEPTEMBER 1917 AGE 29
BURIED: NINE ELMS BRITISH CEMETERY, WEST FLANDERS, BELGIUM
This inscription is in German. John Matucha was an Austro-Hungarian citizen born in Bohemia where his parents, Wenzl and Maria Matucha, lived in Manetin vei Pilsen. According to his medal index card, he joined the British Army some time after the beginning of January 1916, served with the 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment and died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station near Poperinghe on 27 September 1917. His mother signed for his inscription, Ruhe sanft in fremde erde, rest peacefully in foreign earth.
All the above is fact, this is surmise. Matucha died in a Casualty Clearing Station, he hadn't been moved back to a base hospital so his wounds were likely to have been quite recent. The 7th Battalion had not been in the trenches during September. On 29 September they were in camp at Sint Jan ter Biezen, just west of Poperinghe. At 7.20 pm a German aeroplane dropped four bombs on the camp killing one officer and 26 other ranks and wounding three officers and 63 ORs. I would suggest that this was when Matucha was wounded. A soldier only had to have arrived alive at some form of aid post for it to be said that he had died of wounds. Even if his death followed soon after the wounding. Matucha must have died before midnight.
What was an Austro-Hungarian citizen doing in the British Army? This is even more of a surmise. Bohemia, post-war Czecho-Slovakia, wanted independence from Austria-Hungary. Some Bohemians joined the Czech Legions and fought with the Allies - most however did not. Some, and perhaps Matucha was one of them, joined the Allied armies.