Richard Evans was born on 16 March 1870 at 15 Windsor Street, Rhyl, Flintshire. He was the youngest child of Rhyl’s former Registrar, Sylvanus Parry Evans and his wife Mary Anne Evans (nee Edwards).
Richard attended Christ Church School, Vaughan Street, Rhyl and on leaving worked for his brother-in-law before moving to London. The 1901 Census shows that he lived at 294 Upper Street, Islington, London as a Lodger with Mr and Mrs William Quaye. Richard was employed as a Draper’s Assistant, before becoming a Floor Walker at Swan & Edgar’s Departmental Store, Piccadilly Circus, London. (The store was hit in the last Zeppelin raid on London in 1917 and had to be rebuilt).
On 9 September 1902 he married Catherine Jones, who lived in Mostyn, Flintshire. Their first child Frances Prudence Evans was born in London in 1903. Sometime after this the family returned to North Wales.
The 1911 Census shows that the family lived at 20 Gronant Street, Rhyl, Flintshire. Richard Evans was now aged 39, and employed as a Bread Salesman. His wife Catherine Evans aged 33 and their three children – Albert Morgan Evans born 1905, Sylvanus Parry Evans born 1908 and Eileen May Evans born in 1910.
Both Richard and Catherine were Welsh speaking and the family staunch members of the Queen Street Welsh Congregational Chapel.
By the time war was declared John Owen Evans, born 1913 and Allen Leslie Evans, born 1914 had further increased the family.
Richard enlisted at the Recruitment Centre, Rhyl on Monday 2 November 1914 in 13th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. On enlistment he was 44 years of age, well above the upper age limit of 41. He must have been a remarkable man to consider being a front line soldier at that age.
Following initial training at Llandudno, the Battalion moved to Winchester in June 1915 and became part of the 113th Brigade of the 38th Division. Richard arrived in France with the Battalion on Wednesday 1 December 1915.
In a letter to his brother on 21 January 1916, he thanked them for the parcel just received and particularly for the candles ‘which in the trenches they might be a means of saving my life as many times you are likely to fall into a pool of water’. He spoke about the dreadful conditions in the trenches and asked them not to send any more parcels out as ‘they have started paying us’. He told his brother that his Rhyl family were well and that he had received a parcel from the Queen Street Chapel.
Whilst in France he would have received news of the birth of his daughter Phyllis on 8 February 1916.
The system of relief was four days in the trenches and four days out. Bethune, the principle town was the social centre for troops on relief. After four days in reserve the Battalion returned to the front line on Saturday 4 March 1916, some time the following day, Sunday 5 March 1916 Richard was shot by a sniper and died half an hour later.
In a letter of condolence from his Platoon Commander Lieutenant Vivian Jones (himself to be killed a few weeks later) to Catherine, Richard was described in extremely positive terms.
His death was reported in the Rhyl Journal on Friday 17 March 1916. ANOTHER RHYL SOLDIER KILLED – To the lengthening list of Rhyl men who have sacrificed their lives in the Great War, another has to be added, that of Richard Evans of 19 Kinmel Street, Rhyl. He joined the North Wales Pals in the early days of the war and proceeded to France in December last. The sad news has now been received by his family that he was shot by a sniper a few days ago and died about thirty minutes afterwards. The deceased soldier was the son of the late Mr & Mrs Sylvanus Evans of 12 Queen Street, Rhyl and he leaves a wife and seven children for whom much sympathy is felt by everyone.
On 6 June 1917, a payment of 13s 8d was made by the War Office to Mrs Catherine Evans, being monies owed to her husband Richard. A War Gratuity payment of £5.10s.0d was also later made to her.
There is no Flintshire Roll of Honour Card for him at the County Archives Office, Hawarden.
Richard Evans is also remembered on the First World War Memorial Plaque, which is situated in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Marine Drive, Rhyl, Flintshire and on The North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch, Deiniol Road, Bangor, North Wales.
My grateful thanks to Mr Richard Evans, Grandson of Private No.16950 Richard Evans for his invaluable help in providing most of the above information regarding his Grandfather.