Private 16413 Horace Evans

Killed in Action on Monday, 22nd October 1917, age 21.
Commemorated on Panel 54 to 60 and 163A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

18th Bn., Lancashire Fusiliers. 104th Brigade of 35th Division.

Son of Edward and Sophia Evans, of 5, Queen St., Prince's End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Bilston, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1631388/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
4 Court 3 House, Newhall Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Evans (32, Coalminer - Pikeman, born Wallbrook), his wife Sophia (33, born Princes End), and 5 of their 8 surviving children of 11: Maria (13, born Princes End), Eliza (12, born Princes End), Edward (8, born Princes End), Horace (5, born Princes End), Dora (1 month, born Princes End).

1911 Census
89 High Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Sophie Evans (43, born Princes End), and her 5 children: Edward (18, Colliery Horse Driver - Underground, born Princes End), Horace (15, Door-Keeper Underground, born Princes End), Samuel (9, born Princes End), Clara (5, born Princes End), and Leonard (3, born Princes End).

Personal Data

The 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers was initially a Bantam Battalion for men less than the 5 feet 3 inches required for other infantry Battalions. By the end of 1916 the quality of Bantam replacements became sub-standard; in common with the other Bantam Battalions, replacements from then on were average conscripts. As Thomas Harris enlisted in 1915, it can be assumed that he was less than 5 feet 3 inches tall.

After Horace's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £12/11/0d (12 pounds and 11 shillings); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Sophia, April 1919. His War Gratuity was £13/0/0d (13 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Horace had enlisted in January 1915.

Action resulting in his death

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) had started on 31st July 1917. Almost immediately it had become a slow hard slog through mud as the front line gradually moved forward in a series of advances over the coming weeks. The Lancashire Fusiliers (LF) had been resting in the early part of October and many new replacement troops joined from Britain during this time. On the 16th October they moved into the front line south of the Houthulst Forest, to the north of the Belgian town of Ypres.

On the 22nd October, the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers (18/LF) was to have its first taste of action in the Ypres Salient. As part of 35th Division, they were to take part in an action intended to drive forward the northern flank of the Allied position to provide a secure flank for subsequent operations against Passchendaele. The 18th and 34th Divisons were in action further south, around the village of Poelcapelle, and the 35th Division was to attack into Houthulst Forest to a line running east-west about 500 yards into the forest.

At 2.00am on the 22nd October, they formed up with the 17/LF on the left, the 18/LF on the right and the 20/LF in reserve; 'zero hour' was at 5.35am. As the 18/LF attacked, the men lost direction and some of them found themselves on the left of the 17/LF, leaving gaps in the planned attack line. At the same time, 34th Division on the right failed to make significant progress so the attack line was broken up even further, allowing the Germans to pour fire onto the attacking Fusiliers from their flanks.

By 6.15am, 'X' Company of the 18/LF had moved back to the right, but this delay meant some huts and pillboxes in the middle of the Houthulst Forest were not put out of action and the enemy were able to fire from them throughout the day. The men of 'X' Company now found they were virtually surrounded and had to withdraw back to the Forest edge. The remainder of the 18/LF had by now secured its objectives, but the Fusiliers were shelled throughout day and subsequent night until their relief overnight on 23rd/24th October.

During this action, the 18/LF had 85 Other Ranks killed. Amongst them were 3 Tipton men: Privates Bert Bateman, Thomas Harris, and Horace Evans. None of the 3 Tipton men has a known grave, and they are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

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