Private Gerald Vance Evans, the son of Joseph William Evans and Mary Evans (nee Vance), was born at Rosewood in Queensland on 5th August 1893. At the age of 22 years and 2 months he voluntarily enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Brisbane on 12th October 1915 after swearing the statutory oath that he would serve for the duration of the war and an additional four months. At the time of enlistment he was unmarried and employed as a Saddler. He had completed a 5 year apprenticeship with C. Williams at Rosewood. His physical description at the time of enlistment was that he was 5 feet 6 inches in height and he weighed 135 pounds. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He stated that he was of the Congregational religion. He gave his next of kin as his father, Mr Joseph William Evans, residing at Rosewood in Queensland.
Private Gerald Evans’ initial military training was conducted at the 7th Depot Battalion in Brisbane during the period 12th October until 19th January 1916. He was allocated to the 17th Reinforcements of the 9th Infantry Battalion and allotted the regimental number of 5359 on 20th January 1916. He embarked for overseas service in the Australian Imperial Force on His Majesty’s Australian Transport “SS Hawkes Bay” from the port of Sydney in New South Wales on 20th April 1916. He disembarked from the ship in Egypt where he continued his military training. He embarked for overseas service with the British Expeditionary Force in France on the ship “Tunisian” from the port of Alexandria in Egypt on 23rd May 1916. He disembarked from the ship at Marseilles in France on 2nd June 1916.
Private Gerald Evans joined the 1st Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples in France on 7th June 1916. He left the Base Depot on 26th July 1917 and joined the 9th Infantry Battalion in the field at Beteacourt in France on 29th July 1916. He was detached for duty with the 1st Division Australian Provost Marshal on 4th March 1917. He was admitted to the Corps Mumps Station on 13th March 1917 and remained a patient at the hospital until 30th March 1917 and he rejoined the 1st Division Australian Provost Martial on 31st March 1917. He rejoined the 9th Infantry Battalion in the field at Ribemont in France on 3rd June 1917. He was granted leave to England during the period 9th September until 23rd September 1917.
Private Gerald Evans was wounded in action whilst serving with his battalion at Broodseinde Ridge in Belgium, suffering gas poisoning on 5th November 1917. He was admitted to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance Unit on 8th November 1917 and on the following day transferred to the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station and admitted to the 14th General Hospital at Wimereux later that day. He was invalided to England on the hospital ship “Jan Breydel” on 11th November 1917 and admitted to the 1st Western General Hospital at Fazakerly, Liverpool. Upon recovering from his injury he was transferred to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield on 28th January 1918. He was granted furlough during the period 31st January until 14th February 1918. Upon completion of his furlough he joined No 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott Camp.
Private Gerald was transferred to the Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverill on 6th April 1918. He absented himself without leave during the period 24th until 26th April 1918. The penalty awarded was the loss of 6 days of pay. He again proceeded for overseas service in France from the port of Folkestone on 22nd May 1918 and he joined the Australian Infantry Base Depot at Havre on 24th May 1918. He left the Base Depot on 25th May 1918 and rejoined the 9th Infantry Battalion in the field at the Meteren/Strazeele area on 31st May 1918. Gerald Evans was awarded a Military Medal for Bravery that was promulgated in the London Gazette on 13th November 1918 and in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 14th March 1919. The citation for his award stated:
Private Gerald Evans continued to serve with his battalion until 27th March 1919 when he left his unit to join the Australian Infantry Base Depot at Havre for on forwarding to England in preparation for his return to Australia. He left the Australian Infantry Base Depot on 3rd April 1919 and joined the Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverill on the following Day. Gerald Evans embarked from Liverpool in England on the ship “Nestor” to return to Australia on 20th May 1919. He disembarked from the ship at Sydney in New South Wales on 4th July 1917 and then travelled overland by rail transport to Brisbane. He was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force at Mo. 1 Military District Headquarters in Brisbane on 20th August 1919. For his service in World War 1, Gerald Evans was awarded the Military Medal, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name is commemorated locally on the Rosewood Honour Board, the Rosewood State School Honour Board and the Rosewood Congregational Church Honour Board.
Australian War Memorial photograph H09533
British troops digging trenches in the hop fields close to the town of Meteren.
Author: Edwin Habben O.A.M. R.F.D.