On a sunny Sunday morning I drove across to Lytham on the Lancashire cost for a run up and down the sand dunes. On the way I went to walk round the cemetery to find the family grave which contains the ashes of Arthur Evans.
I’d looked before, strolling around for about 45 minutes. This time I got luck. I drive in my slippers and was just sitting on a grave putting on my trainers when I looked up, swigged the last of the coffee in the cup, and scanned a few graves. My eyes fell on the correct one.
Arthur had been born in Liverpool, left school to get a job in an office but soon resigned as it wasn’t for him. He joined the Royal Navy as a stoker but was injured in the ribs and was invalided out. He joined the Merchant Navy and ended up in America. Once back at home in England he felt tireless and joined The Lincolnshire Regiment. Shortly after joining he was sent to fight in the First World War and was so badly injured he was sent home to Manchester to recover.
Soon the 27-year-old was fighting in Etaing, France. On 2nd September 1918 He was part of a patrol checking the west bank of a river when an enemy machine-gun was seen on the east bank. Knowing he could be shot at any time Arthur volunteered to swim across the deep river to shot the gunner. He crawled up behind the machine-gun post and got round the back of it. He shot the sentry and another man and made four more men surrender. A crossing was found and two of Arthur’s troop crossed to join him.
The troop continued their patrol of the river bank. Suddenly a curtain of bullets sprayed from machine-guns and rifles were on them. One officer was shot (but didn’t die) and Arthur slowly withdrew with the wounded man covering his retreat with his own gun.
Arthur was also awarded a DCM for gallantry. Just three month after the above-mentioned bravery he was part of a platoon ordered to clear the country north of Chateau Of Aubencheu-au-Bac to Canal-de-la-Sensee. They encountered strong gun fire. Arthur rushed ahead killing ten men, wounding some more and taking one man prisoner. Not long after this he was manning a machine gun he was buried alive and thought to be dead (he was only unconscious but was thankfully face up and able to breath.)
The King invested Arthur with the Victoria Cross on 6th December 1918 on one of his many visits to France to keep up the morale of the army.
After the war the 33-year-old married and moved Australia with his wife. They lived in Sydney, New South Wales and Arthur worked for the Australian Tank Corps as a voluntary soldier for two years. Suddenly his health broke down and he spent ten months in hospital (his wife sleeping in a nearby room). He died there aged just 45 leaving a 3-year-old son. He was cremated at the North Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney after an impressive military service. Thousands of people lines the streets to see the coffin pass by on a gun carriage, preceded by the Royal Australian Artillery band. Seven other holders of Victoria Crosses attended the funeral and the Australian Tank Corp fired volleys from their revolvers over the coffin.
So why are Arthur’s ashes her on the coast in Lancashire? In 1936 the Australian government decided Arthur’s ashes should be returned to the country of his birth. There were taken there by Australian VC-winners who had been invited to London to attend the coronation of King George VI.
There was no red wreath on the grave. How many people have strolled passed this non-descript grave without knowing the story behind it? I leave a water proof calling card on some graves I visit and sometimes people respond to the email address. I think I’ll revisited this grave though and leave something more permanent, a laminated A4 page summarising the man who’s ashes are buried there.
Les Dawson and his first wife Meg are buried near this grave so I strolled across to said hello. There was a sealed card there with “Mum” written on it. I’m a very nosy person but even I know not to open things like that.
About to look for….
Touching the “VC” and there it is on his chest…
There’s Arthur getting the Victoria Cross…
The grave wasn’t far from Les Dawson’s so I went to say hello…
So near the coast you just have to visit the wonderful sand dunes…