Sidney Mathews was a flight mechanic at Bourn, who on Black Thursday was instrumental in saving the life of Joe Mack, the wireless operator of the Thackway crew. Sidney had been cycling back from Cambridge late at night when he came across the crash of Thackway’s aircraft, which had caught fire immediately after landing. Together with Leslie Laver, the rear gunner of the crew, who was unhurt, Sidney managed to get Joe out of the burning wreck.
The full story of what happened will be added to the website at a later date, but the citation for Sidney’s medal tells much of the events of that night.
The details for the citation would have been noted down on the same day as the crash, or very soon afterwards, by Sidney’s commanding officer, and then forwarded on to the appropriate authority with a recommendation for the medal.
It is even possible that it was Bennett himself, the Commanding Officer of the Pathfinders, who insisted that Sidney’s’ name should be put forward for the medal despite the fact that Sidney had been breaking Standing Orders (by being off base without permission) when he came across the crash. Bennett, who went to the crash with a group of his senior officers, would have been aware of the circumstances of Joe Mack’s rescue. Bennett was not a man to let bureaucratic red tape interfere with how he felt the Path Finder Force should be run and who should be rewarded for extraordinary acts of courage.
For a biographical portrait of Sidney Mathews, see: