A. T. Evans
Rifleman, London Regiment (London Irish Rifles), 2nd/18th Bn.
Service no. 593075
Died 23 December 1917, aged 19
Remembered at Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel
Alfred Thomas Evans was born in 1898 and baptised at St Paul’s, Clapham on 1 May. He was the youngest of William Charles and Mary Evans’ four sons. The family lived in six rooms above their grocery shop at 270 Wandsworth Road.
In the 1911 census, Alfred, then 13, lived at home with this parents and older brothers William Charles, Bertram Horace and Henry Edgar. His father, a tea dealer and grocer, ran the family business with the assistance of his son William. Bertram worked as an engineer, and Henry was a leather worker.
The shop lay between New Road and Howard Street, with a butcher and baker to either side. The Bell public house was two doors away and is still standing. The atmosphere of the area can be judged from this 1910 photograph.
October 1911 brought sadness for the family when Bertram, the second son, died aged 21. He was buried at Norwood Cemetery. Happier times followed when Alfred’s older brother William married Ada Florence Hall at St Philips, Balham, on 23 March 1913. Their first child was born in January 1914.
William seems to have made a last-minute decision to attest on 9 December 1915, under Lord Derby’ scheme, two days before its closure. The scheme, devised because recruitment was not keeping pace with casualties, urged men aged 18 to 41 who were not in a reserved occupation to come forward, on the understanding that single men would be called up before married men or widowers with children. William was not called up until the beginning of 1917.
Alfred was conscripted in mid-1916, enlisting in London. His first destination was Salonika by ship across the Mediterranean, landing on 30 March 1917. His battalion moved to Egypt on 12 June, landing at Alexandria, and entrained for Ismalia where they settled in at Moscar Camp the following day.
The comforts of the camp were described by one soldier: ‘Moscar, itself, was a permanent camp of tents with ample accommodation for everyone and water to be had by merely turning on a tap. Melons and fruit in abundance and in great variety and ideal swimming in Lake Timsah only a short distance away…’
What followed was the Battle of Sheria in November and the assault to capture Jerusalem in December.
News reached the Evans family that Alfred’s older brother William had been wounded in the head and was invalided to England on 16 December 1917. A week later, at Christmas time, William and Mary received the news that Alfred had been killed in action on Christmas Eve, near Jerusalem.
Alfred’s brothers William and Henry ran the family business in the Wandsworth Road for many years after the war. His father died in 1931, aged 67, Henry in 1940, aged 47, and William in 1963, aged 75.