In Memory of Matt Dunnachie
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“A very fine man indeed - one of Scotland’s elite.” That was how Rev Dave Whiteman described Matt Dunnachie at his funeral service last week. He continued, “Matt was one of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. He was truly an amazing man who lived the most amazing life, a man who was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him.” “Matt was a founder member of Carrick Speakers Social Club,” said Mr Whiteman, “but I really got to know him when I became his parish minister three years ago, and you know, a finer man you could never hope to meet. Matt was neither up nor down, he always had that wonderful smile of his on his face; and such a quit wit. Matt had such an inner strength, it really was a privilege to have known him.


“Matt was a Miniboler through and through, born at Pat’s Corner in 1922, one of 10 children. His father worked on the farms at Culroy and Drumellan, and for a time Matt went to Kirkoswald primary, but most of his education was at the Cairn. He worked on the farms with his father and he had a real love for the farms, he loved working with the animals, in fact Matt always had a real love for, and interest in, anything to do with nature, and he especially loved working with horses. Matt was to train as an engineer but his father took ill and Matt left school to work. He left for the army at the age of 18, and he joined what he described as the finest regiment in the world - he was very proud to be part of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders.


He served his country with great distinction during the war, he was at Dunkirk and he landed on Gold Beach at the Normandy landings where he was wounded. After the war Matt was home for only two years when he was called up again to go and fight in Korea with the Royal Artillery. He joined the 170 Independent Mortar Battery in C Troop.


During the Battle of Injim in April 1951 Charlie Troop were giving support to the Glorious Gloucesters and the troop were captured and taken prisoner and it took them six weeks to walk to the prisoner of war camp.” Mr Whiteman then said, “Now, this is where I find it difficult because Matt did not want to talk about what went on in these camps, and the ill treatment they went through. Matt would not want me to go into any detail today.

Click on the images below to view them full size.  Text of Awards and Citations in text format also available below

Matt at age 18 Notice of War Injury Notice Cover Outstanding Service Award Korea Citation Matt with Medals


But I will say this much; Matt was given the choice, either accept communism and have a fairly easy life in one camp or refuse to accept it and have a very difficult life in another camp. Matt never accepted it, he was determined, he never gave in to them. He was a man of principle. It’s enough I think to say here today, knowing what I know, that Matt was one of the bravest men I have ever known. A man of tremendous courage, he truly was one of Scotland’s elite, a well deserved title.


When Matt was released he weighed 6½ stone. He was awarded a Presidential citation for his service. He was designated an Ambassador of Peace by the Korean government. You will have seen at the door a certificate from the Burgh of Maybole, a citation signed by Monty himself, a letter from the president of Korea, a certificate from the Royal British Legion for 50 years service, and, of course, Matt’s medals  It is truly a distinguished career, and he went back to Korea because he wanted to see that beautiful country.


I was thinking yesterday that Matt lived a full life to say the least, but I think he crammed several lives into his one lifetime. He worked as an electrical linesman at one time; as I said he worked on the farms; and he worked at Maybole Tannery. Matt went off to college at Hull to retrain as an aircraft detail fitter; he worked for Jack’s as an electronic welder, moving on to Wallacetown Engineering, finishing work in 1976 due to ill health. Matt had nine heart attacks and four strokes in his life; two of his heart attacks in the Club of which he was a founder member.


I said my goodbyes to Matt on more than one occasion. He told me one day that he had had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra. That was Matt - what a sense of humour he had in adversity. He was getting physiotherapy one time in hospital; I said ‘How’s it going, Matt’, he shook his head and said, ‘Oh I think they are going to succeed where the Germans and Chinese failed. Matt had the most amazing sense of humour. And he loved the kids, he loved having children around him especially his own grandchildren; he was so proud of them.


Matt loved his garden, he was a great gardener; he loved everything to do with nature; and he was a keen fisherman at one time. He enjoyed music, instrumental music, and reading, sometimes devouring four books a week, watching nature programmes on the telly, and horses, Matt loved horses all his life. Another great hobby of Matt’s was his ironwork, Matt made most of the gates at Culzean Castle  downstairs in his workshop. There are many of Matt’s gates around the town of Maybole, it was a hobby he really enjoyed.


Matt was a member of the original Maybole branch of the British Legion and  he attended Ayr branch for a while, joining Maybole branch when it reformed. Matt was a very faithful member when he was well enough,  leading us in Binyon’s lines at the services. He never missed a meeting; he was so interested in the work of Earl Haig, Hollybush House and Erskine, and Koreans Veteran Association.


Matt was a fine man, he had a great sense of humour, a very dry wit, he was never slow to speak his mind but always in a nice way. He had a great love for people, a great love of his country, a great love for his church, and was a man of faith.” After the service at Ayr Crematorium there was a collection for Rachel House.


Earlier this year Matt and his wife May celebrated their Golden Wedding in Fairknowe House where he had been resident. They had met at Carrick Academy and known each other for 72 years. Mr Whiteman added that he knew Matt thoroughly enjoyed the lovely celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, and he also paid tribute to the care Matt had received. Matt is survived by wife May, his son Edgar, daughter-in-law Lorna, and grandchildren Graeme, Heather and Andrew.


Other articles on the Maybole website regarding Matt Dunnachie


A great Golden Wedding party was held for old soldier Matt Dunnachie and his wife May. And the bash for around 60 guests was staged in Maybole’s Fairknowe nursing home, where Matt is now resident. May said: “Fairknowe couldn’t have done more. We had a great night.” The golden couple even took the opportunity to renew their marriage vows...  Photos and story regarding Matt and May's golden wedding anniversary

Click here to view larger image. AN old soldier from Maybole was honoured by comrades in the local branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland. Matt Dunnachie (80) is a veteran of both the Second World War and the Korean War, serving as a gunner in the Royal Artillery. more Click here for a full size image. A MAN who was told he was ‘living on borrowed time’ 28 years ago used his 80th birthday to raise cash for a school for handicapped kids. Matt Dunnachie was a prisoner of war for two years and nine months during the Korean War. more

Text of Awards and Citations in text format available below.

21st Army Group


2991468 Gnr Dunnachie, M.E. 81 Fd. Regt. RA.


It has been brought to my notice that you have performed outstanding good service, and shown great devotion to duty, during the campaign in North West Europe.


I award you this certificate as a token of my appreciation, and I have given instructions that this shall be noted in your Record of Service.


B. L. Montgomery

Field Marchal

Commander in Chief, 21st Army Group

Date 17th August, 1945



Official Proclamation


Mr Matthew Dunnachie


It is a great honor and pleasure to express the ever-lasting gratitude of the Republic of Korea and our people for the service you and your countrymen have performed in restoring and preserving our freedom and independence.


We cherish in our hearts the memory of your boundless sacrifices in helping us re-establish our Free Nation.


In grateful recognition of your dedicated contributions, it is my privilege to proclaim you an ''AMBASSADOR FOR PEACE" with every good wish of the people of the Republic of Korea. Let each of us reaffirm our mutual respect and friendship that they may endure for generations to come.


24 October, 1987


Kyung-nok   Choi

Lieutenant General, ROKA, Ret.


The Korean Veterans Association


June 25, 2000 Dear Veteran Mathew E Dunnachie

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, I would like to offer you my deepest gratitude for your noble contribution to the efforts to safeguard the Republic of Korea and uphold liberal democracy around the world. At the same time, I remember with endless respect and affection those who sacrificed their lives for that cause.

We Koreans hold dear in our hearts the conviction, courage and spirit of sacrifice shown to us by such selfless friends as you, who enabled us to remain a free democratic nation.

The ideals of democracy, for which you were willing to sacrifice your all 50 years ago, have become universal values in this new century and millennium.

Half a century after the Korean War, we honor you and reaffirm our friendship, which helped to forge the blood alliance between our two countries. And we resolve once again to work with all friendly nations for the good of humankind and peace in the world.

I thank you once again for your noble sacrifice, and pray for your health and happiness.

Sincerely yours,

Kim Dae-jung

President of the Republic of Korea


A.O. 65/1951



The Army Council have approved of the publication of the following citation which appeared in General Orders, No. 286 of the Eighth United States Army Korea (EUSAK), on 8th May, 1951, on behalf of C Troop, 170th Independent Mortar Battery, Royal Artillery and the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Begiment:—


"The IST BATTALION, GLOUCESTERSHIRE BEGIMENT, BRITISH ARMY and C TROOP, 170TH INDEPENDENT MORTAR BATTERY, BOYAL ARTILLERY, attached, are cited for exceptionally outstanding performance of duty and extraordinary heroism in action against the armed enemy near Solmari, Korea, on the 23rd, 24th and 25th April, 1951. The IST BATTALION and C TROOP were defending a very critical sector of the battle front during a determined attack by the enemy. The defending units were overwhelmingly outnumbered. The 83rd Chinese Communist Army drove the full force of its savage assault at the positions held by the IST BATTALION, GLOUCESTERSHIRE BEGIMENT and attached unit. The route of supply ran southeast from the battalion between two hills. The hills dominated the surrounding terrain northwest to the Imjin River. Enemy pressure built up on the battalion front during the day, 23rd April. On 24th April the weight of the attack had driven the right flank of the battalion back. The pressure grew heavier and heavier and the battalion and attached units were forced into a perimeter defence on Hill 235. During the night, heavy enemy forces had by-passed the staunch defenders and closed all avenues of escape. The courageous soldiers of the battalion and attached unit were holding the critical route selected by the enemy for one column of the general offensive designed to encircle and destroy 1 Corps. These gallant soldiers would not retreat. As they were compressed tighter and tighter in their perimeter defence, they called for close-in air strikes to assist in holding firm. Completely surrounded by tremendous numbers, these indomitable, resolute, and tenacious soldiers fought back with unsurpassed fortitude and courage. As ammunition ran low and the advancing hordes moved closer and closer, these splendid soldiers fought back viciously to prevent the enemy from overrunning the position and moving rapidly to the south. Their heroic stand provided the critically needed time to regroup other 1 Corps units and block the southern advance of the enemy. Time and again efforts were made to reach the battalion, but the enemy strength blocked each effort. Without thought of defeat or surrender, this heroic force demonstrated superb battlefield courage and discipline. Every yard of ground they surrendered was covered with enemy dead until the last gallant soldier of the fighting battalion was over-powered by the final surge of the enemy masses. The IST BATTALION, GLOUCESTERSHIRE BEGIMENT and C TROOP, 170TH INDEPENDENT MORTAR BATTERY displayed such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing their mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set them apart and above other units participating in the same battle. Their sustained brilliance in battle, their resoluteness, and extraordinary heroism are in keeping with the finest traditions of the renowned military forces of the British Commonwealth, and reflect unsurpassed credit on these courageous soldiers and their homeland.


(Signed) LEVEN C. ALLEN.

Major General U.S. Army.

Chief of Staff."


22525803    Gnr. M. DUNNACHIE

Was with “C” Troop, 170th Independent Mortar Battery, Royal Artillery at Solma-Ri, Korea and for his services in this action is entitled to wear, at all times on the appropriate occasion, the emblem of the United States Presidential Citation.

Matthew E. Dunnachie

Matt enlisted for service in the Second World War on 25th October 1940 at the age of 18 years. He served originally with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, later transferring to the Royal Artillery in 1942 where he took part with the liberation forces, landing on Gold Beach in Normandy on D. Day plus 4 and on through France, Belgium and Germany where he was awarded the General Montgomery Certificate for gallantry on the field.


After a short period at home after his demob, he was recalled for service in the Korean Campaign. His experiences during that time are listed below.


I am sure that most of our members will know Matt and May Dunnachie, but I wonder if you know much about Matt's experiences in the Korean War.     Matt first enlisted in the army on the 25th of October 1940 and served with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.     At the outbreak of the Korean War Matt again rejoined the ranks but this time in the Royal Artillery, he subsequently joined 170 Independent Mortar Battery who were equipped with 4.2" Mortars, and in particular "C" (Charlie) Troop of that battery. During the battle of the Injim in April 1951 Charlie troop were giving close support, remember the maximum range of the 4.2" Mortar was 4100 yards, and so close support it really was.     The Chinese overran the Troop and Matt was taken into captivity.     Matt and his fellow captives arrived at camp number 2 near Pyoktong near the Chinese border.    The journey took some 6 weeks due to the fact that movement initially was restricted to night marches for fear of being spotted by friendly forces and of course the whole thing was a foot slog, no comforts here!     After the initial period of indoctrination by the Chinese who were of the opinion that the War was very much a struggle between "Bosses " and "Workers", they fully expected that all British soldiers would come over to their side and those that did listen to their propaganda were taken to a camp with much improved facilities.     Matt did not agree, would not accept the Chinese policy and was classed as a reactionary and taken away to a labour camp and there he became a lumberjack, felling trees and chopping wood from sunup to sundown 7 days a week regardless.     Upon the return to camp each day Matt and his fellow lumberjack had to face an additional humiliation, they each had to kill 200 flies a day and present them to the guard before they were allowed to have their evening meal which consisted mainly of rice which was supplemented by whatever they could steal and fish which they cunningly harpooned from the nearby river.     The humiliation with the flies was short-lived as they saw the guards put them in a bin and thereafter as Matt said "We just lifted them out again and from then on they were counting re-cycled flies"     Matt also suffered at the hands of his captors when during one of the normal "bed checks" Matt was awoken from a deep sleep and sat up suddenly sending the guard sprawling through the doorway.      Matt was arrested and taken to a cell where he was ordered to confess to assaulting the guard.     When he refused to do so he was kicked and beaten about the head and body, threatened with a loaded pistol but still refused and was then thrown into solitary confinement in a cell with no toilet facilities and where he was regularly beaten up until he did agree to confess.     He was then paraded before the whole camp where his confession was made and he also had to give a guarantee of his future good behaviour and agrees to accept any punishment that his captors would deem necessary should he break his word.


Upon his release from captivity Matt weighed just six and a half stones and the ordeal has left him with ongoing health problems, 9 heart attacks, the odd bout of malaria but through all this Matt has never lost his sense of humour and I am sure has many amusing comments which he could make on his military career. Matt and May make a perfect couple and it is our privilege to have them as members of "Scotland's Elite"

For the part played by "C" Troop 170 Independent Mortar Battery in the Injim battle they, along with the Glorious Gloucester's was awarded the United States Presidential Citation.    The Battery became known as 170 "Injim Battery" and still exists today


As a fellow "Mortarman" I have the greatest respect for Matt, though our time in Korea was in time months apart and no doubt had little effect on the War itself, we can share the experiences common to all 4.2" Mortar crews and have no doubt that many an infantryman has had cause to thank members of 170 Independent Mortar Battery followed by 120 Independent Mortar Battery and subsequently 61st Light Regiment Royal Artillery.