RFA West Lancs Bdes
681829 L/BDR. E. EVANS. R.F.A.
Eric Norman Martin Evans was born on 11 September 1891 in West Derby, Liverpool. His father was John James Despigney Evans (b. 1859 in Liscard, Cheshire), an accountant. His mother was Flora Adelina Labone (b. 1862 in Glasgow). Flora’s father was French and he moved to Glasgow in the 1850s, where he married, and the family moved to Liverpool in the 1870s. Flora and John were married in Liverpool in 1884 and they had 10 children, though two died in infancy. The survivors were: John Vivian (b. 1888), Claude Mario (b. 1890), then Eric, then Brian Eugene (b. 1891), Rowland Oscar (b. 1895), Flora Elaine (b. 1897), Harold Horatio (b. 1898) and finally Patricia Elsie (b. 1899). In 1911, the family was living at 32 Lorne Street, Liverpool. Eric was an apprentice leadlight maker (making stained glass windows).
Eric was in the Territorials before the War and when he joined the Royal Field Artillery he was assigned service number 1368. He was posted to “D” Battery of 276th Brigade. Eric was a Driver and was later promoted to Lance Bombardier. In the spring of 1915 he married Annie Fell (b. 1890 in Liverpool), but on 30 September 1915 he landed with 55th Division in France.
Eric fought with his Division through the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and Passchendaele and Cambrai in 1917, and then through the defence of Givenchy during the German Spring Offensive in 1918. During May 1918, the Brigade was still in the line near Givenchy. The Germans had ceased their major attack but there were still skirmishes and intermittent shelling. Eric was killed in action on 13 May 1918. He was 26 years old.
Rank: Lance Bombardier
Service No: 681829
Date of Death: 13/05/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: I. D. 31.
Cemetery/Memorial: HOUCHIN BRITISH CEMETERY
Eric’s brother Brian was also killed in 1918.
The newspaper article (kindly provided to me by Wayne Finch) gives
details of the brothers' deaths.
10524 SGT. B. EVANS. E.LANCS.R.
Brian Eugene Evans was born in the fourth quarter of 1894. In 1911, he was working as a machine tender in a fountain pen factory. He must have already been in the Army when War broke out (the newspaper article confirms he was an "Old Contemptible" - the term was used to describe members of the Expeditionary force who landed in France in 1914 and derives from the Kaiser's description of them as a "contemptible little army"). He was in the East Lancashire Regiment, with service number 10524. During the course of the War, Brian was shifted around various battalions. He started off in 2nd Bn which came under orders of 24th Brigade in 8th Division and they landed in France in early November 1914. In October 1915 the Brigade moved to 23rd Division. At some point (perhaps he was wounded or engaged in training), Brian was moved to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion back in England. He then resumed service with 8th Battalion which came under orders of 112th Brigade in 37th Division. At some point Brian was promoted to Sergeant. 8Bn was disbanded during the major army reorganisation of February 1918 and all officers and men from the Bn were transferred to 11th Battalion. 11th Battalion were the Accrington Pals, slaughtered on the Somme in 1916, but by 1918 their character and composition was very different. 11Bn came under orders of 92nd Brigade in 31st Division. This Division was heavily engaged in both phases of the German Spring Offensive: Operation Michael in March and Operation Georgette in April. Brian was killed on 27 March 1918. I don’t know the precise circumstances of his death, but the town of Albert fell to the Germans that day. Brian was 24 years old. His body was never recovered.
Service No: 10524
Date of Death: 27/03/1918
Regiment/Service: East Lancashire Regiment, 11thBn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Bay 6.
Cemetery/Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Additional information: Son of John Despigney Evans and Flora Evans, of 5 Somerset Place, Tue Brook, Liverpool.