b. 16/02/1876 Kensington, London. d. 28/09/1937 Annerley, London.
William John George Evans (1876-1937) was born in Kensington, London on 16th February 1876, and his father was Daniel Jones Evans, who was a pub barman, and later a brakeman. His mother was Mary Georgina nee Anderson, and his parents married on 10th April 1875 at St John’s, Walworth, Surrey. Tragically, George’s mother died when he was just six weeks old, and his father re-married to Caroline Elizabeth Burnett in 1877. Sadly, he would be widowed again in 1880, and in 1881, married for a third time to Ruth Ann Hoskins. George had four half-brothers from his father’s third marriage, but two did not survive infancy.
George was educated in various London schools and was employed as a labourer before he enlisted in 1st Scots Guards on 5th March 1894. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 6th April 1895, but reverted to Private on 19th December 1896. He transferred to the Depot on 15th February 1898 and served in the South African War from 1899-1900. Having returned to Britain to 3rd Scots Guards on 18th April, he was seconded to the Imperial Representative Corps accompanying the future King Georrge V on the Australian Commonwealth inauguration tour. He was discharged to the Reserve on 26th August 1902.
George served for three years with the Derby Borough Police Force and then the Manchester Police. He married Clara nee Bates from Derby on 21st September 1903 at St Chad’s, Cheetham, Manchester. She was a tobacconist’s assistant. George and Clara had four children – Daniel James, Constance, Violet May and George.
In 1910, George became an Inspector with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the following year was working for the Society in Prestwich, Manchester. He enlisted in 18th Manchester (3rd City) as a Sergeant on 4th January 1915 and was appointed Company Sergeant Major on 18th March. He went to France on 7th November with the Battalion. While he was away, his wife deputised for him with the NSPCC.
On 30th July 1916, at Guillemont, France, Company Sergeant-Major Evans volunteered to take back an important message after five runners had been killed in attempting to do so. He had to cover about 700 yards, the whole of which was under observation from the enemy. He succeeded in delivering the message in spite of being wounded and rejoined his company although advised to go to the dressing station. The return journey had again meant facing 700 yards of severe rifle and machine-gun fire, but by dodging from shell-hole to shell-hole he managed it.
He became known as the “Children’s VC” because of his work with the NSPCC. He was taken prisoner later on, 30th July 1916, and was held in various camps in Germany, where he is reputed to have lost six stones in weight due to poor diet. He was exchanged through Holland on 6th June 1918 and stayed there until 19th November, when he was repatriated. He was demobilised to the Class Z Reserve on 19th February 1919. His VC was the last gazetted for the Great War and it was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 12th March 1920.
George resumed his work for the NSPCC in Hackney and Sydenham, London. He worked for the Society for 27 years and is understood to have helped over 12,500 children in that time. Georrge was also a Freemason with the Wilton Lodge No 1077, East Lancashire. George died suddenly at his home at 5 Tremaine Road, Anerley, London on 28th September 1937. He was buried in Elmers End Cemetery, Beckenham, Kent. His grave was refurbished in 2009 by his only grandchild, Dilys Fisher, her husband James and their children William and Jonathan.
In addition to the VC, he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with four clasps, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. In 2002, his granddaughter, Dilys Fisher, loaned the medals to the Imperial War Museum, where they are on display in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: ELMERS END CEMETERY, BECKENHAM, KENT.
ROW I, T-8, GRAVE 16239
Kevin Brazier – Grave Photo and Cemetery Plan from Beckenham Cemetery
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – VC Stone at Fulham War Memorial.
Derek Walker – Lewisham Shopping Centre Memorial
Brian Drummond – Evans’ name on the Freemasons Memorial, London.