Tom Alec Edward Evanson-Jones was born in Chorlton, Lancashire on 17th May 1896 to Dr Edwin Evanson-Jones and Sarah Evanson-Jones [née Good]. He was one of six siblings, three of whom died before reaching maturity. His father was a physician and surgeon who originally hailed from Flintshire, North Wales.

After completing his education at Wellington College1, where he attained the rank of Senior Sergeant in the Officers Training Corps [OTC] he left in the summer of 1914 to study medicine at Manchester University, but with the advent of war applied for a temporary commission on 15th August. Whilst at the school Tom distinguished himself in Athletics as a sprinter as well as playing outside-right for the Football Team.

Tom was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in ‘P’ Company, 11th (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, on 1st September 1914 based at Aston-under-Lyme, moving to Witley camp, near Godalming, Surrey in April the following year. One of Tom’s contemporaries at Wellington, and a fellow officer in the same battalion, was Stanley William Dyson who was killed in 1917.

On 30th June 1915 his Battalion sailed from Liverpool destined for the Gallipoli peninsula, going via Mudros to Suvla Bay. Here on 6th August having been embarked on ‘HMS Grampus’ the Battalion landed in SUVLA BAY, but on the wrong part of their allotted beach, and held on with considerable determination. This landing was made with the intention of supporting a breakout from the ANZAC sector, five miles to the south.

Moving along the water’s edge they set off towards the objective of Karakol Dagh, a ridge north of the bay. Having successfully cleared an isolated Turkish post at Ghazi Baba they moved along Kiretch Tepe ridge and were able to penetrate some two miles inland.

The following morning, Saturday 7th August 1915 Second-Lieutenant Tom Alec Evanson-Jones, ‘P’ Company, 11th (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, was killed in action. He was 19 years of age.

It was on 21st August that the following telegram was received by Dr Evanson-Jones.

A subsequent letter to his parents from Lt-Col B.A. Wright, DSO, his Commanding Officer, informed them that:

Tom was with his company when we made the landing at Suvla Bay on Aug.6th, and was killed next morning when leading his platoon forward to the attack.

He is buried near where he fell, and his grave is marked with a cross, giving his name, etc. He was a great loss to the Battalion. He was a keen and good soldier and well-liked by everybody. He was killed gallantly doing his duty, more than which no man can do. He was buried with Lieut. Marsland and Major Sillery the day after he was killed.

Tom Evanson-Jones is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. The servicemen are commemorated in this way when there is no known burial for the individual, or in circumstances where graves cannot be individually marked, or where the grave site has become inaccessible and unmaintainable.

Despite light Turkish opposition the Suvla Bay landings were totally mismanaged from the start which led to the stalemate conditions prevailing on the Helles and Anzac fronts. On 15th August after days of inactivity and much indecision the British Commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford was dismissed, his performance here being commonly regarded as one of the most incompetent feats ever seen by a general officer of the entire war!

On 4th October 1915 Tom’s mother wrote to the War Office requesting a certificate of her son’s death; to whom she should apply for her son’s belongings as they had not yet been returned, stating that she was aware of other families [whose son’s had died after her own] where the belongings had been returned.

The War Office replied on 7th October with a short typewritten confirmation of death, not a certificate as such, and this was followed a few days later on 13th October by a further communication advising Tom’s father that his son’s effects had yet to be returned to England, but some form of delay was inevitable given the circumstances of war.

By 24th November Tom’s mother wrote a brief letter to the War Office, again seeking information on the return of her son’s kit and ‘cannot some enquiry be made by the people at Headquarters?’ Her determination in this matter elicited a reply on 9th December 1915 to the effect that the Assistant Adjutant-General [AAG], Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, had been requested to initiate a special enquiry as to the whereabouts of the effects of the late 2Lt Evanson-Jones and that a further response would be sent when applicable.

A copy letter in the file shows that enquiries filtered down the chain of command such that in December 1915 the Commanding Officer, 11th (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment [Lt-Col B.A. Wright, DSO] was asked if he could shed any light on this matter. His reply, back up the chain of command, confirms that all of Tom’s belongings were packed up in an old ammunition box on 8th August for despatch to the AAG, 3rd Echelon, Base Alexandria. and handed over to the shipping agent, with appropriate receipts and that the AAG and WO were duly informed to that effect and that ‘whilst unable to detail the whole of the articles handed over, can distinctly remember that a gold ring was one of them.’ This is the first occasion that mention is made of a gold ring, presumably a signet ring. A further letter by Tom’s mother to the War Office dated 4th February 1916, enclosing a claim form for ‘lost property’ is the final piece of correspondence in the file, his belongings now being regarded as being lost. No record exists as to whether any items were recovered at a later date.

The Manchester Regiment is perpetuated today in the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s Lancashire and Border).

1. Contemporaries from his time at Wellington at the time of the 1911 census and who died in the War can be found in Appendix 1.

See also the Imperial War Museum permanent digital memorial to the ‘Lives of the First World War’ for TAE Evanson-Jones.