Lieutenant John Llewellyn Evans 1 March 1917

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Lieutenant John Llewellyn Evans

5th April 1893 – 1st March 1917 (aged 23)

Family

Father: John Thomas Evans

  • Flour Mill’s Agent in 1901
  • Welsh Speaker
  • Born in Usk
  • Died 1915 aged 57?
  • Commercial traveller

Mother: Clara Evans (Charlotte)

  • Born in Llanvihangel, Monmouthshire
  • Married John 1884

Brother: Arthur Rhys Evans

  • Born in Cardiff, 1895
  • Cardiff High School
  • Bank Clerk
  • 5’9
  • Joined the Army 03/11/1915 aged 20. Service no: 19672.
  • 26th Bn Royal Fusiliers (Bankers) and 24th Bn (2nd Sportsman’s).
  • 26th Bn moved from Farnbrough to Southampton then sailed to la Havre on SS Mona.
  • British Expeditionary Force: 4/5/16 to 02/08/16 (26th Bn), 03/08/16 to 27/10/16 (24th Bn). 177 days. Wounded 25/10/16 – there was shelling that day.
  • Dislocated Left Hip. Medically discharged 01/09/1917.
  • 23 Victoria Road, Harborne, Birmingham.

Sister: Frances Ruth Evans

  • Born in Tintern Parva, Monmouthshire, 1887
  • Postal Clerk in 1911 with GPU
  • Died 21st April 1953

Other:

  • Another unknown child died.
  • Maid called Mary Thomas in 1901, Anne Page in 1891

Information

  • John was the eldest son, born in Newport, Monmouthshire; his parents lived at Highbury (no.32), Bishops Road, Whitchurch, Glamorgan.
  • Cardiff Intermediate (High) School from 1905 to 1907. Won a Headmaster’s Exhibition to Monmouth School (School House) but left within a year (1908-1909) to work at a Bank in Cardiff (London, City and Midland Bank).
  • In 1915 John’s NOK is his father and address is listed as 46, The Parade, Cardiff. In the 1901 census the whole family are at this address. In 1911 Clara is in Bishops Road with Arthur and Frances.
  • Arrived in Canada 1913. Spoke French.
  • John was living in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and working as a clerk for the Union Bank (Royal Bank of Canada) when he enlisted as a private (service number 473117) in to the 65th Battalion at Prince Albert in 24th July 1915. Promoted to Cpl, 21st October 1915. Served until 13th November 1915. Recommended for a Commission.
  • November 1915 he joined a course on the OTC at Winnipeg University. He was gazetted early in 1916, and was made Officer in Charge at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, where he raised a company of 287 men, of which he became O.C. when they were attached to the 188th Canadians
  • Re-mustered as an officer at Camp Hughes, Manitoba 15th August 1916. 188th Battalion from 1st March 1916. Appears he had served in the 52nd Prince Albert Volunteers in the interim.
  • Leaving Halifax on the 21st August 1916 on the SS Olympic he arrived in Liverpool on the 30th John was sent to the Canadian Military School in Shorncliffe, Kent (for Officer training I assume), before shipping to France 21st September 1916 to join the 54th Battalion.
  • From attestation documents we can see he was 5ft 8 ½, had black hair and hazel eyes.
  • Arrived with Battalion from England on 24th September 1916
  • Lieutenant in D Company, 54th Battalion, Canadian Infantry.
  • Sent to Hospital along with another officer on the 5th November 1916 for exhaustion – possibly shell shock (listed in some source. John then suffered shrapnel wounds to the fingers of his left hand an attack on Desire Trench during the Battle of the Somme. The successful Desire Trench attack took place during a heavy bombardment and snowstorm. John was admitted to hospital on the 18th, discharged 25th.
  • He died on St. David’s Day during preparations for the Battle of Vimy Ridge (accounts below). Gun Shot Wounds to upper body and head. 687 Canadians killed.
  • A funeral was held at the cemetery on 4th March, attended by Major Generals and Colonels among others; also all available officers of the battalion attended and a firing party were provided.
  • The German commander sent word to his Colonel that his body was found in advance of all the British troops. Writing to his mother, his Colonel says ” It may be some solace to you to hear that the German commander reported that he fell when gallantly leading on his men, and that his body was actually the furthest into the German lines of the whole of the British. It is something to be proud of to have given a son like that.”

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188th Bn in 1916. John is likely to have been there as he received his commission there 3 days later.

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188th Bn Billets, 1916. Camp Hughes is where John was before sailing to Britain.

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The 54th were in action on the 18th November when John was injured at Desire Trench.

The images below open up to show you they attacked from Regina Trench ground to Desire Trench (the dark red dashed line). The area is just north of Courcellete France.

54_desire 54_regina_trench

Other Information

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From 1916 to 1917, Olympic was chartered by the Canadian Government to transport troops from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain.

Will

John’s will (15th September 1916) was with Macintosh, Thomas and Co of Cardiff and left all his belongings and money to his mother Clara.

Union Bank – Royal Bank of Canada

When war was declared, many Royal Bank employees immediately enlisted. At first they were granted a leave of absence with an allowance and the understanding that their services would be re-engaged on their return from war. After September 1915, staff members were required to resign with a guarantee of a job on their return if their services could be used. Continued enlistments, coupled with continuously expanding business, caused progressively acute staffing issues and Royal Bank found it necessary to engage women as banking clerks – with the understanding that they would be replaced by returning soldiers. This was a fundamental change for the bank as women had previously only been engaged as stenographers and filing clerks. Almost 1,500 Royal Bank employees enlisted for active service. Of these, more than 300 employees lost their lives. One staff member who elected to return to the bank was distinguished Canadian poet Francis Sherman, who enlisted in 1915 and returned to the bank in 1919. In 1928 the bank honoured those employees who died or were missing in action by erecting large memorial tablets in the newly constructed head office building at 360 St. James Street, Montreal.

Vimy Ridge

In 1936 over 50,000 veterans and their families (many Canadian) made a pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge. On 26th July King Edward VIII led a ceremony from the memorial.

Captured by the Germans in WW2 in 1940. It was undamaged and in September 1944 was recaptured by the Welsh Guards.

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Remembrance

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 He is buried at Villers Station cemetery, Villers-au-Bois northwest of Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France. The Byron quote was chosen by his mother, Clara Evans, from the poem ‘The Eve of Waterloo”.

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John’s grave is 5th from the left (before gravestones were added). The cemetery was just south of the Canadian 4th Division’s HQ at Chateau De La Haie look for STN in the lower right of square number 11.

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 Villers Station Cemetery post conflict – probably post war when the cemeteries were being enhanced to their present condition.

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 Second row from front contains the graves next to John’s.

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 John’s name is also listed on a memorial in Whitchurch, Cardiff,

evans93and one in Yorkton, Saskatechewan, Canada.evans94

Royal Bank of Canada Memorial at the Montreal Main Branch

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John’s name is bottom right on the memorial at Monmouth School

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PRO PATRIA

JOHN LLEWELLYN EVANS (1908-9),

Lieutenant, 54th Canadians, 4th Division, killed in action in France, March 1st, aged 23.

John Evans came to the School from Cardiff with a Headmaster’s Exhibition. He left to enter a Bank before he was old enough to have won any prominent place in the life of the School; and he will be remembered chiefly by his contemporaries in the School House, where his keen and vigorous character made him many friends.-THE MONMOTHIAN.

After some time in a Cardiff Bank, he went to Canada, and made his way well, being accountant at the Union Bank of Canada, Melfort, Saskatchewan, when war broke out. His letters home were full of enthusiasm for the new country and his own hopes. It was not long before he volunteered, and in November, 1915, he went for a course at the O.T.C., Winnipeg University. He was gazetted early in 1916, and was made Officer in Charge at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, where he raised a company of 287 men, of which he became O.C. when they were attached to the i88th Canadians. In August, 1916, he volunteered for Oversea service, and in September was sent to France, and attached to the 54th Canadian Regiment as full Lieutenant. He was wounded in the battle of the Somme in November, but not seriously. He was killed on St. David’s Day in a raid on the enemy’s trenches, while at the head of his men. The German commander sent word to his Colonel that his body was found in advance of all the British troops. Writing to his mother, his Colonel says :—“ It may be some solace to you to hear that the German commander reported that he fell when gallantly leading on his men, and that his body was actually the furthest into the German lines of the whole of the British. It is something to be proud of to have given a son like that.”

Other Information from Monmouth School:

John Llewellyn Evans: born 5th April 1893, elder son of John and Charlotte Evans. His father was a commercial traveller. John Llewellyn Evans attended Cardiff Intermediate (High) School from 1905 to 1907, and then attended Monmouth School from 1908-09. He joined the London, City and Midland bank after leaving school before moving to Canada to work for the Union Bank, Yorktown, Saskatchewan, and then joined the Canadian Army in September 1915. He was wounded and sustained shellshock in late 1916, and after recovering was killed in an unsuccessful raid on Hill 145 at Vimy Ridge, and is buried in Villers Station Cemetery, France. Arthur Rhys Evans is mentioned briefly as having also attended Cardiff High School and having been wounded while serving in the Royal Fusiliers.

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Accounts

March 1, 1917 – The 4th Canadian Division launches a raid against German forces. 687 Canadians die in the raid.

1) Account from Battalion Records

In January the weather became very severe. Snow fell and then frost came and froze it all. This lasted for about six weeks. Immediately on the thaw coming the trenches began to fall in and a great deal of hard work had to be put in on the job of upkeep of trenches. This work, on which the Battalion was complimented, was carried out under the supervision of Lieut. C. J. Mackenzie, our works (engineer) officer.

Towards the end of February 1917 preparations were commenced for a gas attack on the Hun. Gas cylinders commenced to make their appearance in Snargate, our support trench. The idea was for the gas to be released in large quantities on our front and then after a period of time, for the 54th and 75th Battalions to go over and raid the enemy’s lines. There were two distinct objects in this raid: (1) To test the efficiency of our new type of cylinder gas; (2) to destroy the enemy’s trenches and dugouts and inflect maximum casualties and loss on him. No artillery preparation or protective barrages were included in this plan, the wire being dealt with by ammonal tubes carried by the troops. Two clouds of gas were to be sent over, with an interval of two hours and forty minutes between each cloud. After some two hours to allow for the gas to take effect the infantry was to raid while it was still dark. After waiting some days for the wind to become favorable it was at last decided to put it over on the 1st of March. Unfortunately after the first lot of gas was liberated the wind shifted, and instead of drifting across to the Hun lines opposite to us the gas went down No man’s Land and entered the Hun lines opposite the 3rd Division on our right. Consequently, when we came make our raid the Bosche was ready for us and managed to prevent us from getting across to his lines. Added to this the Bosche shelled our lines very heavily and numerous casualties were caused. Among the killed must be recorded with deep regret the name of our gallant colonel. Colonel Kemball died a true hero.

Colonel Kemball, foreseeing the failure of the gas cloud, personally led the Battalion over the top in an endeavor to carry out the orders as laid down.

We advanced through a heavy barrage up to the enemy wire, but were unable to penetrate his trenches in the face of the terrible machine gun fire and hand grenades.

Colonel Kemball was instantly killed in the centre of the enemy wire. The four company commanders displayed great courage and led their men until killed or wounded. Major Lucas, O.C. “C” Company, killed in the attack, was recommended for the V.C. Capt. Tooker, O.C. “D” Company, was also killed. Capt. Cameron, O.C. “A” Company, was severely wounded while Capt. Moffat, O.C. “B” Company, was also wounded. It is impossible to describe the great loss of Col. Kemball to the Battalion; as a very gallant gentleman and soldier he will be remembered by all, and his loss will be mourned long after we are all dispersed.

One of the most memorable and pleasant features of our fighting record occurred on this day, which showed that a few of the Bosche at least had decent instincts. Realizing the sacrifice made by Col. Kemball and recognizing in him a valuable and noble opponent, they proposed to stop all fighting on our and the adjoining fronts in order that we might obtain his body. This was agreed to and they immediately brought his body over to near our lines, treating it with all due respect and tenderness. It was a fitting recognition of Col. Kemball’s brave and gallant action. He was buried in the Villers au Bois Cemetery in company with the men who fell with him on that day.

Other officers in the casualty lists that day were: Major Lucas, Capt. Tooker, Lieuts. Jackson, Reddock and Evans killed, and Capt. Cameron, Lieuts. Foote, Graves, Hosie, Johnson and Letson wounded.

The total casualties of the Battalion in this action were:

Officers Other Ranks
Killed 6 83
Wounded 5 89
Died of Wounds 2 10
Missing 7
Total 13 189

 2) Account

 Five weeks prior to the Canadian assault on Vimy Ridge the 54th battalion was sent forward to damage the German defences on the slopes of Hill 145. Chlorine and Phosgene gas was released to smother the Germans, but the wind reversed direction. Instead of blowing towards the enemy, the gas lay in the shell holes that the Canadians would be advancing through. Lt. Colonel Kemball of the 54th tried to get the Canadian brass to call the raid off but failed. German machine guns mowed down most of the Kootenays as soon as they rose to attack. Only five men made it to the enemy front line, and they were all slain trying to climb the parapet.

He was killed by a sniper when he attempted to rescue a wounded soldier, in preparation for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was the 2nd gas attack on the Germans. The wind changed and blew the gas back on the Canadian troops. Many Canadians died in that attack. Jack Irvine, a comrade from Mann’s Settlement, recovered his dog tag. Henry Lyons, another Mann Settlement man, survived the attack. Buried in “No man’s land” as Corp. John McDavid.

3) Account

By now a strong wind was blowing toward the Canadian lines, and it was obvious, at the battalion level, that an attack would be suicidal. The battalion commanders realized this and protested. Lieutenant-Colonel A.H.G. Kemball, the crisply handsome C.O. of the 54th Kootenays, tried to convince the brass hats in the rear that the raid [on Hill 145] should be postponed or cancelled. The higher ups would have none of it….Kemball was ignored. That gallant officer—the adjective in his case is deserved—defied orders and refused to stay in the rear when his men were in peril. He led them personally on an attack he knew was futile. For the Germans knew everything. They had heard the clanking of the gas cylinders being brought forward days before. They knew the details of the plan from two of their own men, prisoners who had escaped from the compound and made it back to their own lines. The young men from the Kootenays, the Seaforths, from Vancouver, the boys from Mississauga and the Highlanders from Montreal were mowed down almost before they left the security of their own lines. And when they tried to take cover in the shell holes they died horribly. The gas—the ultimate weapon, which was supposed to nullify all opposition—was waiting for them in the slime.

Kemball’s Kootenay battalion was immediately mowed down by the German machine guns….Only five men of the Kootenay battalion actually reached the enemy front line. Of these only three managed to scale the parapet, all dying in the attempt. The surviving pair miraculously escaped, crawling back from shell hole to shell hole, through their own gas and the enemy fire. Of the four hundred and twenty members of the battalion who took part in the attack, more than two hundred were casualties, including thirteen officers. Kemball himself had died, as he almost certainly knew he would, caught on the German wire.

Pierre Berton, Vimy, p. 128-32

 ) 54th Battalion War Diary:

1 March/17—Vimy Ridge—The Battalion took part in a Divisional gas attack…object, to destroy enemy works and gain information. The 2nd Canadian Division on our right cooperated with a smoke barrage. First gas discharge 3 a.m., second gas discharge 4:45 a.m. Advance from Assembly Trench to No-Man’s Land 5:15 a.m.; Assault 5:40 a.m.

Owing to unfavourable wind second discharge of gas did not take place on the Brigade frontage. Enemy retaliated as first wave was discharged with heavy machine gun fire and gas shells, quieting down about 3:45 a.m. Advance in No-Man’s Land. First discharge of gas apparently had no effect on the enemy. In the face of heavy rifle and machine gun fire assault was carried out at 5:40 a.m., but owing to strong wire entanglements before their front line no headway could be made….Artillery barrage was not sufficiently concentrated and caused no slackening of the enemy’s fire. Was registered correctly on our right, but very short on our left and centre, where the chief casualties occurred. Casualties—officers 6 killed, 7 wounded. Other Ranks 77 killed, 126 wounded, 10 missing. At night efforts were made to bring in wounded from No-Man’s Land but owing to the alertness of the enemy had to be abandoned.

Casualties in officers: Killed—Lieut. Col. A.H.G. Kemball, C.B., D.S.O., Major F.T. Lucas, Capt. N.L. Tooker, Lieuts. A.J. Jackson, W.A. Reddock, J.L. Evans.

5) The German Commander

 On March 3 an extraordinary event took place. No Man’s Land had been eerily silent after the attack, but out of the mist a “German officer carrying a Red Cross flag walked out into No Man’s Land in front of Hill 145. He called for and was met by a Canadian officer to discuss a two-hour truce –from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon — during which time Canadian stretcher bearers and medical staff could carry back casualties and remains. What seemed even more remarkable [was]…the Germans said they would assist by bringing Canadian casualties halfway.

http://www.canadianbattlefields.ca/?cat=32

 4th Canadian Division, March 1917.

INCIDENT WHICH OCCURRED AFTER THE GAS OPERATION ON THE MORNING OF 1ST MARCH.

During the fog on the morning of the 2nd, our parties clearing NO MANS LAND went up close to the German wire on their front line without being molested. A German N.C.O. came out and told our men that it was alright and they could go on with their work on their front, but not on the front of the Battalions on their right and left.

We got in some 8 wounded and 20 dead, and the matter was reported to Brigade Headquarters. The Divisional Commander, being up in the Line, ordered the Brigade Major of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade to go up and see that things were properly arranged.

Major Ferrers-Guy had our parapet heavily manned and went out to where the parties were working, close to the German Front Line, meeting an officer of the 261st Battalion, who said that he was the brother-in-law to a Major Elliot in the Canadian Engineers. This Officer said that his men would bring forward some of our dead who were near their Support Line, which they did and our party took them away.

No Germans approached our lines or left their own front line, further than to put down the bodies.

On the morning of the 3rd, our parties took away some 20 more bodies collected by the Germans and placed on their front line parapet.

The whole situation was controlled by the Brigade-Major of the 11th Canadian Infantry Bde, and ceased on the morning of 3rd at 8.15. am.

Since then hostilities have been continued as usual.

No Germans attempted to leave their front line, and our men had all identifications concealed when going up.

This matter was reported to the Corps and the Major-General, General Staff, 1st Army, verbally.

Unsigned.

The following incident is described by Captain D. S. Thompson, formerly a member of the staff of our Niagara Falls branch: “Following the gas attack opposite Vimy on March 1st, 1917, I was present at the truce in No Man’s Land, arranged for the purpose of clearing the battlefield, and conversed with a German Regimental Commander, or Brigadier-General as he would be in our organization. This was arranged by the latter, with one of our battalion commanders on the morning of March 3rd, 1917, to last for two hours, from 10 a.m. to 12, and was held under the Red Cross flag.

The German Brigadier claimed relationship to a Major Elliott, of the Royal Engineers, who was stationed at Esquimalt, B.C., before the war, and unfortunately, nobody present could deny his claim. He was loud in his praises of Major Travers Lucas, of Hamilton, who, he said, had led his men so gallantly right up to their wire. Apparently, it was not a common practice with their own officers. Both Colonel Beckett and Major Lucas lost their lives in this show and I only discovered, after leaving France, that the latter was from my own place of abode. The German Brigadier was a Bavarian, and, to talk to, not a bad sort. He was educated at St. Paul’s School in London and spoke perfect English. He didn’t like war, he said, and hoped it would soon be over, and mentioned how queer it would seem to go back to our different lines after the truce and ‘pot at one another again.’ These were his own words. Indeed, the whole affair seemed so queer, standing upright out there in broad daylight, without a shot being fired, that it seemed to most of us like a dream. Not a shot was fired for the rest of the day.”

http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/Letters_from_the_Front_v1_1000391991/363

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From St. Paul’s School

Commission in the German Army.—C. von Koppelow has passed the successive examinations for entrance into the German army, and being qualified by birth, though educated at St. Paul’s, has been granted a commission in the Grand Duke of Saxony’s Regiment.

Pauline May 1894

A German Pauline—We quote from the Canadian Gazette : ” All Germans are not Huns. Note the story of the British Columbian sergeant which we publish this week. After recent Lens fighting there was an armistice between the enemy and ourselves upon part of the Canadian line for the burial-of the dead, and the men of one Canadian battalion at least declare that the Germans ‘ behaved like perfect gentlemen throughout.’ The German officer in charge had, it seems, been educated at St. Paul’s School, London —that accounts for much.” We should like to know the name of this gallant enemy, but it is better for him to remain unknown. The story emphasizes the criminality of those in high places who do their best to make such incidents impossible.

Pauline November 1917

OBITUARY.

IN a list of recent wills in the paper at the end of last year there appeared that of

Major CHARLES ERNEST AXEL HERMANN PAUL VON KOPFELOW, of Schwerin, Mecklenburg, Germany, an Old Pauline, who must recently have died. He was born in 1875, and came to the School in April 1887. Going up the Science side, he left from the Upper Science VIII in July 1892, and went to the City and Guilds Institute. He subsequently entered the Prussian Army, and served in the Grenadier Regiment during the War. It is very probable that he is the officer referred to in the following narrative from the Canadian Gazette, which has already appeared in THE PAULINE in November 1917:” After the recent Lens fighting there was an armistice between the enemy and ourselves upon part of the Canadian line for the burial of the dead, and the men of one Canadian battalion at least declare that the Germans behaved like perfect gentlemen throughout. The German officer in charge had, it seems, been educated at St. Paul’s School, London.”

Pauline February 1928

–         Esther HALPIN married (September 24th 1873) Hermann von KOPPELOW – Charles’s parents.

–         Hermann – born August 22, 1828, Rey, d. February 24, 1876, Brühl.

–         Esther – born February 22, 1850, Cavan, Ireland. Died 1907. Irish aristocratic family.

–         Charles – born February 25 1875 in Brühl, died January 6 1926 in Rostock. Married Helene Von Blucher May 22 1906.

Ship: VIRGINIAN

Shipping Line: Allan Line Steamship Co.

Port of Departure:

  • Liverpool, England

Date of Departure:

  • 1913-04-11

Port of Arrival:

  • Halifax, N.S.
  • Saint John, N.B.

Date of Arrival:

  • 1913-04-18
  • 1913-04-18