b. 03/01/1881 Abermadd, Ceredigion, Wales. d. 30/11/1962 Paddington, London.
Lewis Pugh Evans (1881-1962) was born at Hen-Blas, Abermad, Llanilar, Ceredigion, Wales on 3rd January 1881. His father, Griffith Humphrey Pugh Evans, studied medicine but changed careers and became a barrister at law in 1867. He practised at the Indian Bar and was a member of the Viceroy of India’s Legislative Council for 20 years for which he was knighted in 1892. He inherited Lovesgrove, Llanbadarn Fawr, and built a mansion there in 1883. He was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant Cardiganshire. He married Emilia Savi Hills on 4th September 1873. Her brother was James Hills-Johnes VC, and her brother in law was William George Cubitt VC. Including Lewis, Griffith and Emilia had seven children.
Lewis was educated at Eton College from January 1895 to December 1898 and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst from January 1899. He had hoped to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers but was instead commissioned into the Black Watch on 23rd December 1899. He served in the South African War with 2nd Battalion from February 1900 to January 1902. He was present at operations in the Orange Free State, Transvaal, and Orange River Colony. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1901, and was taken prisoner. He also suffered bouts of diptheria and rheumatism which put him in hospital for two months. After South Africa, he served in India, where in 1905, he fell dangerously ill with enteric fever.
He was promoted to Captain in 1906 and returned to Britain in 1913. He enrolled at the Bristol Flying School, Brooklands, near London and learned to fly under Mr Merriman. He went solo on 7th August 1913 and gained Royal Aero Club certificate on the 20th flying a Bristol Biplane. He passed out of the Staff College at Camberley in the summer of 1914 and was appointed GSO3 at the War Office on 20th August. He was posted to France in September 1914, arriving as an observer in No 3 Squadron RFC on the 22nd. James McCudden (later VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar) was also in this Squadron. He was largely involved in reconnaissance work. Lewis decided to return to his Regiment and was posted as a Company Commander to 1st Black Watch on 13th December. He was then appointed Brigade Major of 7th Brigade from 3rd May 1915 to 29th February 1916.
He was awarded the DSO for his actions at Hooge, Belgium on 16th June 1915, when the troops became mixed up he moved up and down the line under continuous heavy fire from 10am until midnight reorganising units and bringing back the reports. He was promoted to Major on 1st September 1915 and was appointed GSO2 HQ 6th Division from 1st March 1916 to 5th March 1917. On 23rd March, he was appointed Temporary Lt Colonel and Commanding Officer 1st Lincolnshire.
On 4th October 1917 near Reutel, Belgium, Lt.-Col. Evans took his battalion in perfect order through a terrific enemy barrage, personally formed up all units, and led them to the assault. While a strong machine gun emplacement was causing casualties, and the troops were working round the flank, Lt.-Col. Evans rushed at it himself and by firing his revolver through the loophole forced the garrison to capitulate. After capturing the first objective he was severely wounded in the shoulder, but refused to be bandaged, and re-formed the troops, pointed out all future objectives, and again led his battalion forward. Again badly wounded, he nevertheless continued to command until the second objective was won, and, after consolidation, collapsed from loss of blood. As there were numerous casualties, he refused assistance, and by his own efforts ultimately reached the Dressing Station.
He was evacuated to England on 16th October, and the VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 2nd January 1918. He returned to resume command of 1st Lincolnshire on 4th January 1918, but took command of 1st Black Watch on 23rd January as acting Lt Colonel, which he held until 9th June. He was awarded a Bar to his DSO for his actions at Givenchy between 18th-20th April 1918. He then commanded 14th Brigade from June 1918 to February 1919 as Temporary Brigadier General, succeeding fellow VC, Frederick Lumsden. He was awarded the CMG for his command of 14th Brigade, and was also awarded the Belgian Officier de l’Ordre de Leopold and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
On 10th October 1918 he married Dorothea Margaret Segrave Pryse-Rice at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, London. She had served as a nurse in the Red Cross from 1914-19. Tragically, she died of influenza at St Thomas, Devon on 5th December 1921. They had a son, Griffith Eric Carberry Vaughan-Pryse-Rice Evans in February 1920, born in Chelsea. Lewis then was an instructor at Senior Officers School from 1920-1921, then was GSO2 Scottish Command until April 1925. He was then CO 2nd Black Watch from 1926-1930. He was then Assistant Adjutant General, Eastern Command on 15th May 1931 and commanded 159th (Welsh Border) Infantry Brigade TA on promotion to Brigadier from May 1933 to May 1937. In January 1936, he was a pall-bearer at the funeral of King George V. He retired in January 1938 as honorary Brigadier. On retirement he was awarded the Companion of Bath.
Lewis retired back to Wales and took an active role in the local community around the Lovesgrove Estate. He was Chairman of the British Legion at Llanbadarn Fawr, and President of the Aberystwyth British Legion for 25 years. He was also County Commissioner of St John’s Ambulance (awarded the Order of St John in 1941 and Commander of St John in 1947). He was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 16th (Welsh) Parachute Battalion from 1947 and Honorary Colonel Cardiganshire Cadet Force. He attended a number of VC Reunions including the 1956 Centenary at Hyde Park and the 3rd VCGCA Reunion at the Café Royal, London in July 1962.
On 30th November 1962, Lewis left Aberystwyth to attend his grandson’s confirmation and died of a heart attack after stepping off the train at Paddington Station, London. He was buried in St Padarn’s Churchyard, Llanbadarn Fawr, Ceredigion in the family plot. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the CB, CMG, DSO and Bar, Commander of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with five clasps, King’s South Africa Medal 1901-1902 with two clasps, 1914 Star with “Mons” clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, Defence Medal 1939-45, George V Delhi Durbar Medal 1911, George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, Belgian Order of Leopold and Belgian Croix de Guerre 1914-18. The VC group was acquired by the Ashcroft Trust in 2009 and is displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: LLANBADARN FAWR CEMETERY, CEREDIGION, WALES.
Mark Sanders – Image of Lewis Pugh Evans’ Medal Card.