22 July 1918

Some of the finest oil paintings it has ever been my privilege to see are there, also diamonds and rubies of every description—some of them worth thousands of pounds. There was a funny incident while we were visiting this particular place. I was leaning over a case containing some of these relics, gazing at some beautiful statues, when a priest came and very gently pushed me off them, brushed and carefully kissed the glass covering, and crossed himself.

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Vivian Herbert Evans

Most soldiers who served in the First World War were hospitalised as a result of injuries received or due to illness. Many of those men were admitted to hospital on multiple occasions during the course of their military service.

Vivian Herbert Evans was clearly an exception. He served for a period of four years and was not hospitalised once during this time. He was, however, injured; on 2 May 1918. His service record states:

Wounded slightly and remaining at duty

Vivian’s brother, Keith William Evans, also served in WWI, and was not so fortunate. Keith was killed in action in France on 18 July 1918.

Born in Orange in 1889, Vivian was the third of four children of Advocate newspaper owner William Cunningham Evans and Harriet Priscilla nee Mackey. The family moved to Balmain following William’s bankruptcy in 1890.

At the time of his enlistment in July 1915 Vivian was working as a bookbinder for wholesale chemists Elliott Bros Ltd, with whom he had served a seven-year apprenticeship. Viv was known in Sydney musical circles as a gifted baritone singer.

Vivian embarked HMAT A71 Nestor in Melbourne on 11 October 1915. He was taken on strength with the 15th Field Artillery Brigade as a gunner in Suez in February 1916. Gunner Evans served in Egypt, France and Belgium for the duration of the war. During his service Vivian sang in impromptu concerts organised for soldiers’ relaxation and entertainment and he is reported to have appeared on English and French stages.

Gunner Evans returned to Australia in June 1919 and was discharged from the AIF the following month.

Vivian’s apparent good fortune did not continue in his post war life. In 1922 he married Nina Elizabeth Murden and their son Keith (presumably named after Vivian’s brother) was born the same year. In May 1923 nine month old Keith passed away in Royal North Shore Hospital. Just twelve months later Vivian became a widower when Nina died from pneumonia.

On 8 September 1928 Vivian married Margaret Kidd Miller at the Church of England in Drummoyne. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1935 following Margaret’s desertion of Vivian.

On 5 October 1947 Vivian passed away at a private hospital in Marrickville aged 58 years.

Vivian Herbert Evans is commemorated on St John’s Church of England Balmain Honour Roll.

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21 July 1918

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20 July 1918

Lieutenant General Sir John Monash presents decorations to members of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade after their success in the Battle of Hamel, Querrieu, France. 20 July 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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19 July 1918

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Keith William Evans

Born in Orange on 11 January 1887, Keith William Evans was the second of four children of William Cunningham Evans and Harriet Priscilla nee Mackey, who had married in Balmain in 1883.

Keith’s father, William, was a journalist who had purchased the Orange Advocate newspaper in 1878. The family moved to Sydney following the William’s bankruptcy in 1890. Keith’s mother Harriet died in Balmain in October 1903, and William less than three months later, in February 1904.

On 15 September 1908 Keith, aged 21 years, enlisted in the Australian Naval Force. He served for five years as a stoker, 2nd class, aboard the Pyramus. Keith returned to Sydney following his engagement and resumed work as a station hand.

In November 1915 Keith enlisted for service in WWI, doing so at Casula. He nominated his sister Madeline (aka Madge) as his next of kin. He embarked HMAT A15 Star of England in Sydney on 8 March 1916, a private in the 4th Battalion, 15th Reinforcement.

Private Evans was transferred to the 56th Battalion at Serapeum in Egypt in April 1916, before proceeding to France in July.

In October 1917 Keith attended the Bomb School of Instruction, and, in January 1917, was detached to 14th Brigade Mining Company.

In mid July 1918 the 56th Battalion was stationed hear Bray on the Somme, conducting patrols along the enemy wire checking for gaps. On 18 July Captain Williamson recorded in the battalion’s diary:

The 55th Battalion relieved us tonight. It was a nasty wet night and the trenches were very sloppy. The relief was complete by 1.25am. Pte Evans, KW of B Company was killed. 3 other ranks were wounded.

The details surrounding Private Evans’ death are unknown.

Keith William Evans is commemorated on panel number 162 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Keith’s brother Vivian Herbert Evans also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in June 1919.

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18 July 1918

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Thomas Harrison

Four members of the Harrison family from Lucknow volunteered to serve in the First World War. One of them – Thomas Harrison – did not return; he was killed in action at Villers-Bretonneux in France on 17 July 1918, at age 24.

Thomas was born in Lucknow in 1893. His father, Frederick, had arrived in Australia in March 1885 and was employee of the Wentworth Mine at Lucknow. By the late 1890s the family had relocated to Neutral Bay in Sydney, where Thomas attended the public school.

On 1 February 1916 Thomas enlisted at Casula. He gave his occupation as a slater and tiler and nominated his mother Annie Eliza as his next of kin. He embarked for overseas service on 9 April and disembarked at Plymouth on 7 June after a brief stopover in Alexandria, Egypt, to change ships.

Thomas undertook further training at the 5th Training Battalion before proceeding to France on 17 August, a private in the 19th Battalion, 11th Reinforcement.

On 16 November 1916 Private Harrison was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to the left shoulder. He was evacuated to England where he was hospitalised and rehabilitated, followed by three weeks of furlough. He then spent ten months at Perham Downs before rejoining his battalion in Belgium on 14 October 1917.

Nine days later Thomas was shot for a second time, this time in the right arm. He was admitted initially to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital, but was again transferred to England for treatment. He did not rejoin his unit for a further four months.

At daybreak on 17 July 1918 the 19th Battalion succeeded in capturing a German post near Villers-Bretonneux. Private Harrison was stretcher-bearing, transporting a wounded German soldier to safety when he was hit by an enemy shell, killing him instantly. Thomas was buried in the nearby Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

Thomas’ brothers Frederick and Richard also served in WWI, as did his father, Frederick snr. All survived the war.

Thomas Harrison is commemorated on panel number 88 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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17 July 1918

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16 July 1918

Tsar Nicholas II and his family at Livadiya in 1913. From left to right, Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Image courtesy Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

Nikolai Alexandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you

The police then proceed to assassinate the imperial family.

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