The entry in my diary for Sunday 22 January 1995 records ‘Matthew Barrow died’. I remember writing it in a daze of uncomprehending disbelief, Committing it to paper was an attempt to make sense of the news, Matthew joined QOH in Detmold in 1977.
It did not take us long to realise that this was no ordinary subaltern, and as was noted in his valete, his ready wit made an early impact and ‘remained to the fore’. After two years of troop leading in ‘C’ Squadron, Matthew beat a path to RHQ and the appointment as intelligence officer allowed him the opportunity for ‘entertaining oratory well appreciated by the Colonel’s O Group’.
The year 1981 was significant for Matthew. He received very serious injuries in a car crash, but in October of that year, still affected by his injuries, married Lucinda. Following two years with ‘D’ Squadron in Detmold and Berlin, he joined the Staff in Berlin. There he was able to indulge his love of music and arts.
Those of us who were privileged to share his company will always remember the musical evening he helped to organise in the Armoured Squadron Mess, where Lucinda’s bassoon playing enthralled us all. It was from Berlin that he left the Army to start a new career in the city.
Above all, Matthew was a great raconteur and mimic, and had a seemingly endless supply of jokes. On many an occasion, he would ring up with the latest joke based on an incident in the news that day. An evening spent in Matt’s company was an evening of happiness and side-aching mirth. I recall many times in Detmold that having gone to bed, the ‘well-oiled’ subaltern Barrow would arrive at our quarter, hungry and not yet ready for his bed.
At that time my wife shared his liking of the singer Peter Skellern. Matthew would then lead us through what seemed the complete Skellern repertoire while eating something on toast!
I shall never forget, and more to the point neither shall my eldest daughter, the birthday party which was becoming very tedious with several children refusing to play the games carefully prepared to ensure fun, when Matthew arrived unexpectedly, Sensing immediately there was a potential juvenile problem, he waded in, took over the proceedings and organised the games and children with the skill of a seasoned children’s entertainer.
But Matthew also had a sharply honed ability to see others as they really are, and was always able to put people at their ease. He was never pompous but projected a caring warmth which endeared him to so many of his friends. One could always rely on Matthew to give an honest uncomplicated answer. In hindsight, it is typical of Matthew to have hidden his long and increasingly difficult illness from us all and his untimely and tragic death has rehabbed us of a true friend, and the world is a darker and less happy place.
The packed church where his memorial service was held in May in Londen, is witness to how very much he is missed, Matthew leaves his wife Lucinda, and his children Edward, Alice and Eliza, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.