Private Herman Douglas EVISON
   

Regiment/Service:
Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
(Formerly: Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment))
Unit:
70th Company
Service Number:
5689 (Formerly: 31491 Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment))
Date of Death:
1 July 1916 - Killed in Action
(First Day Battle of the Somme)
Age:
29
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Pier and Face 5 C and 12 C.


Personal History:

Herman was born in the June quarter 1886 at Gyersylt, Denbighshire, Wales, the son of Edwin (Gardner) and Jane (née Morris) Evison. He had an older sister, Ethel E., and three younger sisters, Sybil M., Cecelia Eveline and Essex Byril Jane. In 1891 he was living at Main Cottage, Meiford, Montgomeryshire (Census RG 12/4601)
Ten years later the family had moved again to 73 New Woodhouse, Whitchurch, Shropshire, where Herman was employed as a "Grocer's Apprentice" (1901 Census RG 13/2556). In 1911 Herman was living with his widowed father and sisters at Foxlow Lodge, Buxton (Herman's mother, Jane, died in 1909). At the time of his enlistment the SDGW gives Herman's place of residence as Richmond, Yorkshire.

In 'The Buxton Advertiser's' report when Herman was reported missing it stated: "Sympathy will be extended to his anxious wife who resides at Heath Cottages, off Queens Road, Fairfield." However, no record of his marriage can be found.

Military History:
Herman originally enlisted in the 3rd Battalion the Sherwood Foresters on the 20th October 1915, in Buxton. This was a training/holding Battalion. His Medal Index Card gives no date for when he was posted to France, which indicates after 1915 as he was not eligible for the 1915 Star Medal. Unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived but it is known that on the 1st January 1916 he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He may have also served with the 17th Battalion (Welbeck Rangers) between these postings.

The 70th Machine Gun Company joined the 70th Brigade, 8th Division, on the 5th March 1916. (The Company transferred to the 23rd Division on 15th July 1916, but this was after Herman was killed.) Common practice at the time would suggest that Herman trained as a Vickers Gunner with the Sherwood Foresters, transferring to the Machine Gun Corps.

The first day on the Somme, 1st July 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of Albert (1st -13th July 1916). The attack on the 1st July was made by eleven divisions along a fourteen mile front from Montauban to Serre. On the 1st July the 70th Brigade (and the 8th Division) were involved in the attack on Ovillers Spur:

"... attacking from in front of Authille Wood good progress was quickly made by the leading waves and the German first line entered. Following waves came under heavy Machine Gun fire from both flanks losing 50% while crossing No Man's Land. Close quarter fighting in German second and third lines. Withdrew early afternoon all officers had become casualties."

The losses of the 70th Brigade were the greatest in the 8th Division. Lt. Col. Bertram Lionel Maddison, C.O. of the 8th York and Lancaster Regtiment, and Lt. Col. Arthur Joseph Berkeley Addison, C.O. of the 9th York and Lancaster Regiment, were both killed in action. Two other C.O.s, Lt. Col. H F Watson, 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, and Capt. K E Poyser, 8th KOYLI, were wounded.
When reporting that Herman was missing in action, 'The Buxton Advertiser' - who, perhaps not surprisingly called him "H. Douglas" wrote: "He was probably last seen in action on July 1st, which was the first day of the great move, and was then working his gun. It is hoped that good news will come to hand of him." This was not the case, however, and he was later deemed "killed in action" on the 1st July 1916.

Herman was one of 205 men of the Machine Gun Corps killed on the 1st July, although it is not possible to separate them out into Companies. He now has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on The Somme.


                                 

Sources:
· I am grateful to Jonty Wild for the photo of George's name on the Memorial
· I am also grateful to "Bronno", via the Great War Forum, for the information on Herman's enlistment dates
· "Tracing British Battalions on the Somme" by Ray Westlake (ISBN-10: 1844158853)
· "Slaughter on the Somme - 1 July 1916" - Martin Mace & John Grehan [ISBN 978-1-84884-770-5] p. 296
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 12 August 1916

Link to CWGC Record
The Thiepval Memorial
Pt Herman Evison's name on the Memorial
poppy
..... about The Battle of Albert