Private Robert John Evans


Robert John Evans was born on 23 September 1894 at Lack, Ederney, County Fermanagh, the first of seven children of farmer William John Evans and his wife Margaret (nee Hunter). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Lack with his parents and five surviving siblings and working on the family farm.

Evans enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ederney on 16 February 1912 (No.673) – he overstated his age by 21 months. On 13 April 1915 he embarked for France, where he was posted to either A or C Squadron of the North Irish Horse – probably the latter.

In May and June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, and A, D and E Squadrons combined to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, each serving as corps cavalry units. In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. Like most, Evans joined the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September. He was issued regimental number 41311 and posted to C Company.

Evans was being treated in hospital for scabies at the beginning of the Battle of Cambrai, but rejoined his unit on 1 December 1917, and therefore probably saw action in the fighting near Marcoing that month.

From 16 to 31 March 1918 he was on leave, and was therefore fortunate to miss the fighting retreat from St Quentin, during which many of the men of the 9th (NIH) Battalion were wounded or captured. He may however have seen action during the fighting around Mt Kemmel and Wulverghem on the Ypres front in April that year.

Evans was wounded by a machine-gun bullet in the left thumb on 4 September 1918 during the fighting near Wulverghem at the beginning of the Advance to Victory offensive. He was admitted to No.62 Casualty Clearing Station, then the 22nd General Hospital, before being shipped to the UK and admitted to the Berridge Road Hospital in Nottingham on 10 September. Evans' wound healed, although part of his thumb was removed, and he was discharged from hospital on 28 November.

Evans was discharged, being surplus to military requirements having suffered impairment since entry into the service, on 16 January 1919 (para 392 xvi(a) King's Regulations). His character was recorded as 'very good'.