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.