Arthur Leslie Evans was born in Flint on 24th December, 1893 and baptised on 7th January, 1894 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He was the youngest of seven children to Joseph Wood Massey Evans, Justice of the Peace, County Councillor, and Mary (Foulkes) of Pendre, Church Street, Flint.
Arthur Leslie was a godson of the Reverend Canon Llewelhyn Nicholas, rector of St Mary’s Parish Church.
Arthur’s sister, Sarah Olive (1884–1965), married Otto Charles Kahn (son of physician Dr Herman Kahn) at St Mary’s Parish Church on Flint on 30th June, 1909. A resident of Rochelle, New York, he was Departmental Manager of the Union Pacific Railway. Their engagement was announced in the New York Times on 22nd June, 1909.
Another sister, Mai (1882–1976), married Otto’s brother, Joseph Henry (1884–1946), also at St Mary’s Parish Church, on 30th April, 1913. He was a merchant, of Moffel Bay, South Africa, but later resided in Sutton, Surrey. He fought for the English in the South African Campaign (1899–1902).
Their youngest sister, Nina (1889–1964), married Reginald Elsenham Montgomery Moore (1892– 1926) at All Saints’ Church, Sydenham, London, on 19th June, 1920, and they resided in Prestatyn. He was the son of the late Dr William Holmes Moore, of Charters Towers, Queensland, and Mrs Moore of Sydenham, London.
Arthur, who never married, was an Apprentice clerk with Messrs J Blythe and Sons Corn Merchants, Bootle, Merseyside. He enlisted in Liverpool on 1st September, 1914 and his service record is as follows:
Belton Camp, Grantham, 29th November, 1914; Whiston Hospital with influenza, 8th January, 1915 to 13th January, 1915; Rain Hill Hospital after vaccination, 24th February, 1915 to 3rd March, 1915; Larkhill Camp, Salisbury, 5th September, 1915; embarked Southampton, 6th November, 1915; landed at Boulogne, 7th November, 1915; granted 1st Good Conduct Badge on completion of 2 years’ service, 1st September, 1916; leave to UK, 4th – 14th February, 1917. His personal belongings were sent to Mr Alfred Harvey Blake, 8, Seafield Drive, New Brighton, Cheshire and were: identity disc, photographs, safety razor, fountain pen, scissors, leather purse, 2 pocket mirrors in case, knife and a half-Franc note (defaced) souvenir. On enlistment he was 5ft 101⁄2ins, weighed 143lb, chest 341⁄2 in, had dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair, scar on back of neck, and his physical development and vision were good.
He died on 6th December, 1917 at the No. 53, Casualty Clearing Station, Bailleul, France, from gunshot wounds in the chest and left thigh. He was buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), France (Plot III, Row E, Grave 40).
He is remembered on two war memorials: Flint House and St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
He is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in the Old Ground of the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint, and was awarded the 1914–15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
On Monday the 10th December, 1917 Mr and Mrs Evans received a communication in a letter, and unofficially, that their youngest son, Private Arthur Leslie Evans, had been wounded; and further information was anxiously awaited.
Another letter was to hand from the Liverpool district on Tuesday morning corroborative of the information, and stating that Private Evans had sustained wounds while pursuing his duties. He was conveyed as speedily as possible to a dressing station so that his injuries should have the necessary attention.
Hopes were entertained by those who were with him that there would be a favourable turn in his condition, and Alderman Evans and his family were also somewhat buoyed up; but, early on Tuesday afternoon an official telegram arrived conveying the sad intelligence that Private Evans had died the following day. He would have been 24 years of age on the Monday next. He patriotically answered the call of his country and joined the army, and had been over two years at the Front. He was home on leave from the Front in February last. He was greatly respected by his soldier comrades, and beloved by all those who shared his acquaintance in his home surroundings.
A few days later Mr Evans received the following letter from Arthur’s Commanding Officer.
3, King’s Mount Birkenhead
My dear Mr. Evans,
I am Transport Officer of the 17th King’s and am at present home on leave, and only heard to-day the sad news of Leslie’s death. I had a letter 3 days ago from my Assistant telling me Leslie and another man had been wounded and I had hoped for the best, but a rumour I heard last night caused me to look up A. H. Blake, who, of course told me of the calamity.
I have been his officer since June 1915, and may say it is entirely due to men of his stamp that I have one of the best Transports in France. He was devoted to his horses and his turn- out was a credit to himself and to the Battalion. His conduct was exemplary during the whole time he was with me, and his cheerful disposition enabled him to rise superior to the wretchedest surroundings. I never knew a kinder boy with animals, or a more trustworthy and I cannot adequately replace him. I feel the deepest sympathy with you all in your great loss, as it was easy to see from his letters home how close the family ties were.
Well, the poor boy has paid the greatest of all sacrifices, and we shall hope not in vain, but take consolation that he died as a soldier should, doing his duty cheerfully and bravely. His memory will always be with us, “as one of the best” and could any man have a better epitaph?
If there is anything I can do, Mr. Evans, to help you in any way, please do not hesitate to let me know, and in the meantime,
I am, Yours with deepest sympathy,
C. W. Marshall, Capt.
This verse, about life at Larkhill Camp, Salisbury, where Private Evans was stationed from 5th September, 1915 to 6th November, 1915, emphasises the importance of infantry training, and highlights the difficulties.
There’s an isolated desolate spot that I’d like to mention
Where all you hear is ‘Stand at ease,’ ‘Slope arms,’ ‘Quick march,’ ‘Attention,’
‘Slope arms,’ ‘Fix bayonets,’ then ‘Present,’ they don’t half put you through it
And as you stagger to your hut, the Sergeant shouts ‘Jump to it.’
It’s miles away from anywhere, by gad it’s hard to have fun,
A bloke lived there for 50 years and never saw a woman.
There’s only 2 lamps in the place, so tell it to your Mother
The postman always carries one, the policeman has the other.
And if you want a jolly night and you don’t care a jot
Just take a ride inside the car, the car they haven’t got.
Lots and lots of tiny huts are dotted everywhere
For those who have to live in them, let’s offer up a prayer.
The soldiers live inside the huts, it fills my heart with sorrow
With tear stained eyes they say to us it’s Lark Hill again tomorrow.
Inside the huts there’s great big rats, as big as nanny goats
Just last night a soldier saw one, trying on his greatcoat.
For breakfast every morning it’s like Old Mother Hubbard
You double round the hat three times and jump up at the cupboard.
Sometimes they give you bacon, sometimes they give you cheese
It forms platoons upon your plate, Orders Arms and Stands at Ease.
Every night you sleep on boards, just like a lot of cattle
and when you turn from left to right, your bones begin to rattle.
and when the bugle blasts at morn it drives you off your noodle
you knock the icebergs off your feet and damn and blast the bugle.
Arthur’s older brother, Edward Nevylle (1879–1965), served in the war for 41⁄2 years with the 17th King’s (Liverpool Regiment) attaining the rank of Lieutenant. He served in France and Italy and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and the Edinburgh Gazette of 19th April, 1917 reported: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Accompanied by one man, he succeeded in capturing his enemy’s position together with six prisoners. Later, he took command of his company and drove off an enemy counter-attack.” It was reported he had experienced a number of miraculous escapes from serious injuries.
Joseph Wood Massey Evans was born on 3rd January, 1846 at Pendre in Church Street and died there on 30th October, 1929 and buried in the family plot in the Northop Road Cemetery.
Mr J W M Evans was a native of Flint, and extremely well known and highly respected in the town. He was born in the house in which he died, and was probably one of the oldest residents of the borough. He was the son of the late Mr and Mrs Joseph Evans. Mr Jos Evans conducted a general store known as Pendre Stores, and the late Mr Evans entered into business with his father when he was 18 years of age. After his father’s death he carried on the business of Corn Miller at the Bryn Mill, which he visited five days before he died. He contracted a chill and was taken worse two days later, when Dr Dobey, Chester, was called in consultation with Drs J Humphry Williams and Bateman, but he gradually became weaker and passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
In his younger days Mr Evans had been a prominent and popular public man. He served on the Flint Town Council in the late 1870s, and was also an alderman of the Flintshire County Council for some time. He was responsible for the planting of trees in Church Street to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1898. His name was enrolled on the Commission of the Peace in 1909. He was a staunch Conservative, and was president of the Flint Conservative Club for many years. He was also an ardent churchman and was a faithful member of St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint, where at different times he occupied various offces, including those of warden and sidesman. Mr and Mrs Evans celebrated their golden wedding in June, 1928 when they were the recipients of many congratulatory messages. At the Parish Church on the Sunday morning following the funeral, the Rector (Reverend T J Davies, Bachelor of Arts) referred in sympathetic terms to the late Mr J W M Evans, and said that he had been greatly interested in Church work during his life, and had also been very active in public affairs. The Rector reminded the congregation that the late Mr Evans was baptised at the opening of the present Parish Church in 1848.
Joseph’s wife, Mary, was born in Bagillt on 23rd July, 1851 and died at Pendre, after a long illness, on 7th June, 1935. She was buried with her husband and their daughters, Dorothy Vois (1886–1890) and Gladys Marie (1880–1933). Also in this grave are the parents of Mr J W M Evans – Joseph (1808– 1863) and Maria Matilda (1814–1867), and their only daughter Annie Matilda, Justice of the Peace (1843–1933).
Mrs Evans, who was of a quiet disposition, was greatly attached to St Mary’s Parish Church, and was well known and highly esteemed in Flint and district.