Having just received a commission in the autumn of 1918 with the Royal Field Artillery, Noel Everard Evans from Colwyn Bay, headed straight for the Western Front. He joined his elder brother in 121 Battery, 27th Brigade RFA. 2nd Lieutenant Evans was wounded in action barely two months later. He died in hospital on Armistice Day.
The doctor said that the head wound was a dangerous one and would cause concussion.
Letter from Staff Capt. reporting injury
4th November 1918
I regret to tell you that your younger son was severely wounded in the head this morning. The brigade doctor, who attended him (a very competent and cautious medical officer) told me that he has great hope that the wound is not so serious as it appeared, as the piece of shell had been taken out and as your son was perfectly conscious, though suffering from concussion, still, wounds to the head have to be regarded as dangerous for the time being. If I can find out the CCS to which he has been sent, I will let you know, but as we advance a considerable distance today, I am not likely to see him.
Letter from brother (not dated)
I have seen Bonner, and he told me that he and Noel were together in the Battery position, firing a barrage, when the enemy put down a counter barrage and Noel was wounded by a shell. The doctor said that the head wound was a dangerous one and would cause concussion, but that Noel was in no pain, but seemed very sleepy.
Telegrams regarding injury
OHMS War Office
No 8 General Hospital reports Nov 8th 2nd Lieut N E Evans RFA 121st Battery 27th Brigade admitted seriously ill gun shot wound head left leg.
Regret No 8 General Hospital Rouen reports Nov 8th 2nd Lieut N E Evans RFA 121st Battery 27th Brigade now dangerously ill, further news send when received. Visit not possible.
Condition critical, may be visited. Commandant.
OHMS War Office
Deeply regret No 8 General Hospital Rouen reports 2nd Lieut N E Evans RFA 121st Battery died of wounds Nov 11. Army Council expresses sympathy.
Letter from Commanding Officer
121st Battery RFA, 6th December 1918
Dear Mr Evans,
On behalf of the officers, NCOs and men of the 121st Battery, I wish to express our deep sympathy with you all in the loss of your dear son who, although he had only been with us a short time, had won the hearts of all the men. We in the Mess feel that we have lost a great friend; he was always so cheery, no matter what the conditions were.
We had been in rest for a few days and had received orders to get ammunition up to a position full East of Beaudiquies (about a mile SW of Le Quesnoy). Noel was in charge of the ammunition wagons on the night of the 2nd Nov, and I am afraid he had rather a bad time as the Hun was putting quite a number of machine gun bullets and shells all over the area he had to cover. This did not upset him in the least, and when I saw him in the morning he was very cheery and had treated it as rather a fine joke. On the morning of the 3rd November, I said to him "You must come up to the guns with us tonight and fight the last battle of the last war", and this he did.
We had to occupy the position after dark, as it was very exposed, and from the time we got in until Noel was hit, we had a very bad time. Shells and machine gun bullets simply rained on the position, and before we opened fire at all we had lost several men, killed and wounded. We were to open up a barrage at 5.30am but Noel was to do the second hour on duty and so remained with me in what shelter we had. This was a scrape in the ground about 7' x 7' x 2' deep with a tarpaulin drawn over the top. During the first hour we had a very exciting time as the Hun put down his barrage on the battery as soon as we opened, and kept it up for about 2 hours. During the whole of this time he was missing our little dug-out by inches; once he hit the corner of it and cut the 'paulin to ribbons, wounding two telephonists who were with us.
At about 6.30 am Noel went on duty and remained at the guns till 7.30am. Soon after this, at about 7.45am I should think, I was standing outside the dig-out and Noel walked towards me and we stood chatting for a few minutes; then I returned to the dug-out and just stood under the 'paulin when a shell burst a few yards away. Our cook, who stood at the entrance of the dug-out, fell over on top of us, shot though the neck, and I was busy bandaging him while Noel was brought in. He appeared to be slightly wounded in the left thigh and right heel, and a tiny splinter was pulled out of the back of his head. His thigh seemed to worry him the most, but the hit on the head had caused him to go temporarily blind; this we put down to concussion. His memory, too, seemed a little impaired as he seemed to worry rather about me, and several times asked whether I had been hit. Each time I told him that I had not, but he seemed to forget and asked again.
The morning was very cold and although we put blankets and coats over him, he still shivered a good deal. He seemed quite himself right up to the time he left us and was very cheery. Nobody, of course, thought that he had been fatally wounded and we said before he left that we hoped soon to see him back. We were all very shocked when we heard of his death, and could not realise it for a long time.
Noel was a very promising soldier, and only a few days before he was hit, I had been urging him to apply for a regular commission. This he was going to do, but had not done before he left us. Let me again say how deeply we feel for you all in your bereavement. The knowledge that he died gallantly doing his duty is your consolation.
Yours very sincerely, L. Bonner.
Major L Bonner, 121st Battery, RFA.
An elderly World War One veteran reveals his reservations about the conflict.