William was born in London in 1910. His mother was a Londoner but his father’s ancestral line was based in Devon and Cornwall. When William was still a babe in arms his father took the family to live in Cardiff, where descendants can be found today.

Brought up in Cardiff, William decided his future lay elsewhere and looked for it in Cornwall. He was given accommodation by a William Tucker in the St Pinnock area and in 1935 married the daughter of the house, Rosina Tucker. In 1939 the couple were living in North Hill in the house next to The Rodd Arms. William was working as a pig and poultry man, possibly on the Trebartha Estate.

1939 register

Whilst living in this area William and Rosina had two children: Phyllis was born in North Hill in 1940 and Rosemary in 1942. Around this time the family moved to work at Siblyback Farm in St Cleer parish.

In the early days of the war, despite being a farmer and not being required to enlist, William opted to volunteer for the army. This upset his wife whose worst fears were realized when he was killed on active service in 1942. Phyllis was too young to remember her father and Rosemary never met him as she was born whilst he was serving in the Middle East.

The circumstances of William’s death were described in a letter, dated 7 November 1942, to Rosina from his commanding officer, Major H K Roseveare (whose family have Quethiock origins) of the Royal Engineers:

War Office Notification of the Death of William Arthur Evans (Click for a larger image)

Dear Mrs Evans

You will, of course, by now have been notified by the War Office of your husband’s death as a result of a motor accident on October 27th. I cannot tell your how deeply we, the officers and men, feel for you and your two little children in this tragic loss.

He was driving by himself in a Studebaker lorry in convoy and seems to have misjudged a bend on the road built half way up a mountainside. He went over into the river below. Death was due to multiple fractures of the skull - he cannot have known a second’s pain and the doctor who certified the cause of his death assures me that he cannot have known what happened. I went up to the spot immediately - it happened about 3 in the afternoon, and when we recovered his body we brought him back to this HQ and buried him the next morning. One of his mates, Sapper Arrowsmith made him his last resting place and is carving a beautifully done cross.

All this, I know, must reopen the wound, but I felt you would like to know what little I can tell you. He died for his country and to help our allies as surely as if it had been in battle - and we are all proud of him. He was buried, honoured by all his mates, at 10:30 in the morning and our thoughts were with you then - as they are now. I thought of Trebartha as I knew it last and of North End (sic - should be Hill) church and imagined him buried there in spirit.

If there is the slightest that I can do, you have only to ask. I am sending home to you anything of sentimental value and everything else will be sold here by auction and the results sent on to you.

The heartfelt sympathy of us all comes with this,

Yours sincerely

H K Roseveare, Major

William’s remains were initially interred in Andimeskh Cemetery which was in Persia, modern day Iran. Along with other casualties, his body was later exhumed and transferred to the Basra Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Iraq in September 1944. On behalf of William’s family the NHLHG have contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to establish the condition of William’s headstone, bearing in mind the more recent conflicts in Iraq. CWGC replied to say “At Basra War Cemetery we are conducting regular clearance of the site (i.e. removal of debris and foliage) to keep it in as good a condition as possible. It is well-fenced and secure with obvious CWGC signage. I can confirm that there are no headstones in place in Basra War Cemetery but the casualty remains are untouched.” The full response can be seen here.

William’s daughter, Phyllis alongside the St Cleer War Memorial

Rosina and the children went to Cardiff to live near William’s parents where she eventually remarried, to William’s brother. Rosina later visited North Hill with her daughters to show them where they lived and Phyllis remembers the visit and the location to this day.

William is remembered on the North Hill War Memorial and on the War Memorial in St Cleer. For Remembrance Sunday 2019 the family sent this cross of poppies to be placed at the North Hill war memorial.

TThe banner images at the top of the page show the WW2 cap badge of the Royal Engineers, British Army Motor Transport in the Middle East in 1941 and William Arthur Evans (photograph supplied by his daughter, Phyllis)