Evelyn Napier Craven was born in Flint on May 1885 and baptised on 26th June, 1885 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He was the third of about 13 children to John Craven and Theresa (Mooney). He was a half-brother to Private Richard Craven.
The Craven family lived in Oakenholt Cottages, which were also known as the Villas, and Evelyn served an apprentice in the offices of the North Wales Paper Mill, Oakenholt.
The 1911 census revealed Evelyn to be a boarder in the household of a Mr William Darrock, a station master of 16, Birley Street, Newton le Willows, Lancashire, and his occupation was clerk in a printing works. It was here he met his future wife Minnie who was Mr Darrock’s daughter.
In March of 1912 Minnie gave birth to Evelyn’s daughter Annie and they had her baptised at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint on 19th April that year.
Evelyn and Minnie married at St Peter’s Parish Church, Newton le Makerfield, Warrington, Lancashire on 27th May, 1912 and, shortly after, Evelyn was offered a post as a commercial traveller with paper merchants T W Leigh & Company of Thomas Street, Liverpool, and they set up home at 28, Ingram Road.
They were to have two more children – William John (1913–1995) and Clifford (1915–?).
On 12th April, 1913 Evelyn’s father died of pneumonia at his residence in Oakenholt, and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery. The following is his obituary, which appeared in the County Herald: “Mr Craven was a gentleman who had earned for himself an indisputable and esteemed reputation in the papermaking world and had enjoyed a somewhat interesting career. He was a native of Radcliffe, Lancashire and he came, when he was a comparatively young man, to the North Wales Paper Mills at Oakenholt, and had been employed at the
Mill for a period of forty years. His duties were always characterized by a quiet persistence and indomitable perseverance and diligence. Years ago, his work in the Mills was recognized by the Company when he received the appointment of foreman paper-maker, and which duties he continued to discharge with entire satisfaction for his employers. Throughout these duties he displayed exceptional energy and activity, combined with a most marked ability; and he was keenly interested in the welfare of the Mills in regard to any improvements in the art of papermaking. He was a member of the Loyal Flint Castle Lodge of Oddfellows for over thirty years, being one of the oldest members, and he was also an active member of the Flint Horticultural Society; a Conservative in politics, and a devoted Churchman.”
He was previously married to Winifred Mooney (mother of Private Richard Craven), who was an older sister to john’s second wife Theresa.
Evelyn enlisted in Liverpool on 11th December, 1915 with the 3rd South Lancashire Regiment, No. 40902, and his service record is as follows:
joined at Warrington; formerly with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers; on enlistment he was 5ft 73⁄4in, weight 134lb, chest 35ins and his physical development was good; he had a varicocele in the left side of the scrotum and had to wear a suspender bandage; home base until 15th October, 1917; embarked Southampton, 17th October, 1917; disembarked Le Havre, France, on 21st October, 1917; transferred to Cheshire Regiment, 27th October, 1917; his personal effects sent home to his wife were: identity disc, letters, pipe, mirror, pouch, nail clippers in case, and one coin; Mrs Craven was awarded a widow’s pension of 29s 7d per week for herself and three children, with effect from 10th June, 1918.
He died 26th November, 1917, at the Main Dressing Station, France, as a result of a gunshot wound in
the right thigh, and was buried in the Minty Farm Cemetery, Langemark-Poelkapelle, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, (Plot II, Row D, Grave 7).
He is remembered on two war memorials: St David’s Parish Church, Oakenholt (now in St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint) and Oddfellows Hall, Flint. He is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint (Grave 8, Line 24, South Side).
He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
It was early in December of 1917 when the sad information was received in a letter by Mrs Craven
that her husband was wounded and had died. A letter from the Chaplain stated that the remains were interred in a cemetery on the following day. Private Craven was respected by his comrades amongst whom he served. He was well known in his home town of Oakenholt and also by many people in Flint, by whom he was esteemed for his bonhomie and exceedingly entertaining character, being a most versatile musician with an excellent knowledge of operatic and other musical works.
His mother, Theresa, was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and died 1st January, 1919, aged about 56, at 4, Halkyn Street, Flint and buried with her husband and her step-daughter Jane.
By March, 1918 Minnie was living at 1, Mount Tabor, Newton-le-Willows, Lowton, Lancashire. She re-married in 1920 at St Luke’s Parish Church, Lowton, Lancashire to Brook Ellwood (1876–1954), and they resided at 25, Sobley Buildings, Carlinghow, Batley, Yorkshire. She died at Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1958, aged 69.