Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Robert Sailes Evans



Robert Sailes Evans was born on 19 May 1891 at 176 Cupar Street, Belfast, the second of seven children of linen finisher Thomas Evans and his wife Jane (nee Patterson). By 1911 he was living with his family at 5 McKeen's Row, Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and working as a clerk.

Evans enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 11 November 1915 (No.1842 – later Corps of Hussars No.71586). By then he was living with his family at Suffolk, Dunmurry, Belfast, and working as a shop assistant. He understated his age by four years.

Evans embarked for France on 11 August 1916, where he was posted to A Squadron of the North Irish Horse, joining it in the field at Humbercourt on 30 September. At the time A Squadron was serving with D and E Squadrons, comprising the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment – corps cavalry to VII Corps. He attended 2nd Cavalry Division Training School from 29 December 1916 to 17 January 1917, and Cavalry Corps Signals School at Aire from 13 August to 5 September.

Through 1917 Evans struggled with a series of illnesses, which culminated in a diagnosis of tuberculosis. As related in his medical board report:

[He] states in excellent health up to January 1917 when he got Laryngitis & a pain in left ear. In No.2 Canadian General hospital for 10 days. Transferred to a convalescent camp for 1 week. Discharged apparently cured. Reported sick with pains in both ears November 1917. Admitted to No.3 Canadian Stationary hospital for 14 days. Discharged hospital. Pain in ears nil but deafness of both ears present. Went sick again 3.1.'18 with cough, haemoptysis and pains across chest. Readmitted to No.3 Canadian Statn. hospital. While there had an attack of haemoptysis about one oz. Transferred to No.2 Canadian Gen. Hospital 23.1.'18. Discharge from both ears & spitting blood. Larynx slightly infected, no swelling, dead epithelim heaped up on posterior wall. Sputum examined for T.B(?). which were found present. Invalided to Ireland, Castle Hospital Dublin 11.2.18 where sputum was examined for tubercle bacilli which were found present in moderate numbers. Transferred to Curragh Camp mil[itary] hospital 23.2.1918.

The medical board, held at the Curragh Camp on 7 March 1918, found that his tuberculosis originated in December 1917 at Cambrai, and that this and his other disabilities – chronic otitis media and laryngitis – were "attributable to the hardships & exposure of active service." It was recommended that he be discharged as permanently unfit due to active service, and that he receive a pension and treatment in a sanitorium.

Evans was discharged under paragraph 392 (xvi) King's Regulations on 29 March 1918. His military character was recorded as 'very good' – "Honest, sober, hardworking and industrious."

Private Evans died at the Forster Green Hospital for tuberculosis in Belfast on 9 November 1918.

Evans' younger brother, Thomas, served in the war in the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, and the Machine Gun Corps (Ulster Division). He died from tuberculosis on 21 March 1920.

The brothers are buried together in the Derriaghy Christ Church Churchyard, County Antrim, grave 50. Their gravestone inscriptions reads:


21ST MARCH 1920 AGE 23


Image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org.