Arthur Evans WW1

Born in Horwich (Lancashire), Arthur Evans played for Exeter City from 1913 to 1915 although did not travel on the 1914 tour of Brazil and the Argentine. Previously with Blackpool and Manchester City, he made 26 league and one FA Cup appearance for Exeter City scoring once in the Southern League fixture against Crystal Palace on 13 February 1915. He was also the cricket professional at West Buckland school in 1914.

He became Sergeant while serving in the 24th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers which was known as the 2nd Sportsman's Battalion, service number SPTS/2492. Evans was Killed at the Somme on July 31st 1916 there is no known grave. He is listed on the Thiepval Memorial in Northern France alongside over 72,000 casualties. (Plaque number 8C9A 16A, Pier & Face ). 

The following tribute was published on July 31, 2016, the 100th anniversary of the death in action of Arthur Evans:. 

Remembering Arthur Nicholas Evans (1887-1916)

Evans hailed from Horwich, a town situated midway between two of the clubs he played for, Manchester City and Blackpool. It was fellow Lancastrian Arthur Chadwick, Exeter’s manager, who signed him from Division Two Blackpool in 1913. First team opportunities, though, were hard to come by, and he would miss out on the South American tour.

Instead, during the 1914 close season, he accepted an appointment as cricket coach at West Buckland School. Arthur was one of several City pros who were useful cricketers. On scorecards in the school magazine, the lower status of the professional was emphasised by the absence of an initial: the batsman at number three was plain ‘Evans’.

When war arrived, Arthur Evans was among the first City pros to enlist, joining the West Country Company of the 2nd Sportsman’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, in November 1914. But he was allowed to continue to play for the Grecians, and did so at Villa Park in January 1915 in an FA Cup tie. One year later, Evans was in France, having arrived in November 1915.

In Exeter, at the club’s annual meeting in December 1916, we learn that Evans has been reported missing in action. A letter of sympathy is to be sent to his parents. Then, in the Western Times of January 25, 1917, the worst fears are confirmed. “One of his regiment met a comrade of Sergt. Evans, who found him (Evans) lying in a shell-hole very seriously wounded. He bandaged him and made him as comfortable as he possibly could, but later on had to leave him. He said that he felt sure Sergt. Evans must have died shortly after, as his wounds were so serious.”

Arthur Evans is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial and on the plaque at St James Park. At West Buckland School, in November, his name will be added to the Roll of Honour.

He will never be forgotten.

[acknowledgement: Alison Styles’s research]

For more about Arthur Evans’s playing career see his entry in the A to Z of Exeter City players section of the Archive





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