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Evans, Joseph

Joseph Evans was born on the 4th of January 1891 at Main Street, Buckley, and was baptised  8th February  1891 at Bistre. Joseph was one of 12 children of Jabez Evans and Eliza Parry who were married in 1882.  Children of Jabez and Eliza were: William 1883; Elizabeth (Bessie) 1884; Margaret 1886; John (Jack) 1888; Joseph 1891;   Harry 1893 (Henry); Jabez 1895; Esther 1898; Sarah 1899; Edward 1903; Annie 1905; Thomas 1909.

Jabez Evans also served in France and survived to play football for Tranmere Rovers..

Margaret Evans married Charles Kelsall and they were the grandparents of Peter Kelsall. Joseph Evans was the great uncle to Peter Kelsall.

In the 1891 census (taken April 5) Joseph is aged 3 months, living with father Jabez (listed as coal miner), mother Eliza and siblings Bessie, Margaret. The address is Buckley Road (at The Cross). Joseph appears in the 1901 census aged 10, at Hewitt’s Lane, High Street. Neighbours in Hewitt’s lane in 1901 included John Warburton and Joseph Edward Lewis who would also die in the war. The family was still at Hewitt’s lane in 1911 with Joseph now 20, occupation hewer (coal miner). The family moved to the Bank Buildings at the top of Mill Lane at The Cross after 1911.

Joseph’s service record has not been found and unfortunately to date no family records or memorabilia have been found. From his index card at the County Record Office signed by his father, Jabez Evans, Joseph signed up for the Army on the 19th October 1914. He enlisted in Buckley and was assigned to the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers which was formed in Wrexham on the 9th September 1914. He would have trained at Tidworth, Wiltshire and Basingstoke. From his medal card, Joseph entered the Theatre of War (France) on the 19th July 1915. This is confirmed by regimental history which shows the 9th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne 19th July 1915.

Joseph was killed in action two months later at the Battle of Loos and he is remembered at the Loos Memorial. Joseph Evans is commemorated on the Hawkesbury Memorial and he is one of 67 men from Bistre Parish remembered on the Bistre Church War Memorial.

Battle of Loos (Wikipedia)

The Battle of Loos was the largest British offensive mounted in 1915 on the Western Front fought from 25 September to 14 October 1915. The first British use of poison gas occurred and the battle was the first mass engagement of New Army units. The British offensive was part of the attempt by the French to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies, except for local losses of ground.

The battle opened on 25 September. In many places British artillery had failed to cut the German wire in advance of the attack. Advancing over open fields within range of German machine guns and artillery, British losses were devastating. However, the British were able to break through the weaker German defences and capture the town of Loos, mainly due to numerical superiority. The inevitable supply and communications problems, combined with the late arrival of reserves, meant that the breakthrough could not be exploited.

British casualties in the main attack were 48,367 and 10,880 in the subsidiary attack, a total of 59,247. Of 8,500 who died on the first day, 6000 have no known grave.

The 9th Btn. RWF were part of a diversionary attack north of the main battle of Loos. From Soldiers Died, 7 officers and 98 other ranks from the RWF 9th Battalion died on 25th September at Loos. This represents 13 to 15% of the typical attacking strength for a battalion of 650 to 750 men. The Long, Long Trail account of the Battle of Loos does not mention the RWF/9, but in context it lists 48 battalions with more than 311 casualties each and mentions 23 other battalions with more than 200 each. Thus the RWF/9 with 105 killed played a “minor role” in the battle.

Loos Memorial

The Loos Memorial forms the sides and rear of Dud Corner Cemetery, located near the commune of Loos-en-Gohelle, in the Pas-de-Calais département of France. The memorial lists 20,610 names of British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave who were killed in the area during and after the Battle of Loos, which started on 25 September 1915.

Dud Corner Cemetery contains 1,812 burials, less than 700 of whom are identified. The three surrounding walls are 15 feet high, to which are fixed tablets on which are carved the names of those commemorated. At the back are four small circular courts, open to the sky, in which the lines of tablets are continued, and between these courts are three semicircular walls or apses, two of which carry tablets, while on the centre apse is erected the Cross of Sacrifice.

The RWF has 268 men listed on panels on the memorial located on the rear wall to the right of the circular courts.

Joseph Evans was one of 98 other ranks and 7 officers from the RWF 9th Battalion who died at Loos on 25th September, 1915.  Three other Buckley boys were included, George TatumWilliam Roberts and Robert Davies. (Another Buckley soldier, Ralph Catherall died the same day at Ypres.)

Buckley and Loos – Two coal mining communities

Buckley and Loos were both coal mining communities. Like many who died from Buckley, Joseph Evans was a collier and probably had been from the age of 14 or so. If he “escaped” from the mines when he joined up was it ironic to be sent to a coal mining area in France? Is it fanciful to think that in his last days or even hours he stared out at the mine shafts and slag heaps and did these remind him of the Mountain Colliery?


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Buckley Memorial

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