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David Frank Evans

 

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Died : 15 January 1917

 

Shown on the Village War Memorial simply as Frank Evans, and named after his father, his correct first name is however David. He was born in Brighton on 14th October 1892 but moved to Ringmer and attended school there from 20th April 1896 until 29th April 1905. Home was at Broyleside until he moved to New Road after marrying Alice from Stagpark, Petworth.

Frank, as he was popularly known, enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Brighton and after training was assigned to 'B' Battery of the LXX Artillery Brigade which was part of the 15th Division. He was a Gunner with the number 14171. By the end of 1916 the Battery was armed with six 18pdr. Field Guns, the most common artillery piece of the British Army. It was very mobile, being drawn by a team of horses, and had a maximum range of 6,525 yards.

During January 1917 the LXX Artillery Brigade was in support of its Division in the Bazentin-le-Petit area of the Somme battlefields. Although no major offensives were taking place, the usual harassment was going on. The severe winter prevented any large scale activity. Artillery fire was exchanged between the batteries of the belligerents and targets of opportunity fired on. For example, on the 3rd of the month our positions in the village of Martinpuich, just to the north of 'B' Battery, were shelled by German 10.5 and 15cm guns. The same day after an early thick mist had lifted, we opened fire on traffic noticed further along the Bapaume Road. It was a constant 'tit for tat'.

During 6th and 7th January the Brigade was relieved by batteries of the LXXII Artillery Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. They moved into rest positions near Contalmaison situated about 2,500 yards further back in our lines. They were safe here from all small-arms fire but not out of range of the big guns, for the enemy was only a few miles away.

On 14th January Gunner Evans was asleep in his dugout when a German shell landed on it and exploded. He was extricated alive from his tomb but died of injuries the following day. He is buried in Contalmaison Chateau Cemetery which was first started in the summer of 1916 in the grounds of the Chateau. Frank most probably passed away in the cellars of the Chateau itself which were used by the British as a Dressing Station. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star as well as the British War & Victory Medals.

 

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Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993