For reasons unknown he withdrew from brigade duties in 1923 but when his town needed him in 1928 he returned to take the helm as Chief Officer and remained in post until relieved of his command to the acrimony of many when the National Fire Service was formed in August 1941. To his credit he betrayed no bitterness and even stayed on without rank, one suggestion exists that he, by now aged 66, offered to remain with his firemen as station cook.
That was how he came to be inside the requisitioned Gloster Hotel, temporary wartime NFS station, when it took a direct hit from a 500kg high explosive bomb on 3 January 1943. Twelve of his fire service colleagues died in the incident and for considerable time it was feared he was the thirteenth. Eventually after three hours of carefully picking away at the smashed ruins he was recovered, badly injured but alive.
His determination to return and stay within the service was unstoppable. After recovery he again donned his uniform and remained a fixture of the service until finally accepting that he'd done his bit and retiring after 48 years in July 1943.
Sadly Emily passed away three years later and Cecil spent his final years at 7 Western Road and there he died on 9 August 1950. The eulogies and testimonies of his life and achievements evidence what a remarkable fireman and officer he was, one of the founding fathers of the professional service we aspire to be today.
Rest in peace Chief Officer Matthews.