This blog posting has been contributed by one of our volunteers, Ann Eales.
The article in the Express & Star on Monday March 26th 1917 is particularly interesting, as it tells us about an early example of a blood transfusion.
An instance of splendid self-sacrifice by one who had already fought and bled for his country, and was still lying wounded, has been afforded by the act of a young Wolverhampton soldier named Charles Evans, a shoeing smith in the Royal Field Artillery, one of the three sons serving in the colours of Mr and Mrs Evans, of Stafford-road.
He was severely wounded in the leg recently and whilst lying in hospital in France volunteered to give some of his blood in order to save the life of another soldier, who had been badly wounded. Writing to his mother from Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth where he had since been removed to, shoeing smith Evans says he is going on all right, and adds :- “I did not want to tell you about my arm, as I wanted to give you a surprise. I volunteered in France to be operated on, after my leg was fractured, to try to save a chap’s life, who was shot through the popliteal artery in the knee and the colonel, the doctor, and three more operated and took one pint and a half of blood from me and transferred it into the other chap’s artery and he was alive when we went away two days later. The doctors and nurses gave me their addresses to go to after the war, and they will set me up. They told me to write to my local paper about it, But I don’t like to, but the chaps pals say they will if I don’t, as I was a half hour and twenty minutes on the operating table, and they did not give me anything to stop the pain.
Although he says it has “knocked him about a bit”, this young hero remarks that he thinks he has done something to open people’s eyes as regards nerves – a statement with which all who learn of his action will agree. Before volunteering for service in the Army, Evans was in the employ of the Wolverhampton Gas Company at the works on the Stafford-road. His brother Private John Evans, RAMC, volunteered on the outbreak of the war, and has been in France since, and another brother Corporal WH Evans, is in the ASC.
Charles Evans was a shoeing smith in the Royal Field Artillery, and his parents lived at Stafford Road, so he appears to be the Charles Francis Evans shown on the 1911 Census, age 20, Occupation Blacksmith’s Striker, living at 64 Stafford Road, with his parents John Chas, age 52 Gas Stoker, born at Westbourne Worcestershire, and Sophia age 52 a Certified Midwife born at Brewood Staffordshire. A blacksmith’s striker was apparently a blacksmith’s assistant who carried out heavier duties by swinging a heavy hammer.
The 1901 census has the Evans family living at 64 Stafford Road, John age 42, Sophy age 41 and their children Miriam, Thomas and Charles age 10.
Military records traced for Charles Francis Evans show that he enlisted at Woolwich 28/7/1911, and his Army number in the Royal Regiment of Artillery was 66376. He was a Driver. His address was 64 Stafford Road Wolverhampton, and his next of kin were John (father) Sophie (mother) and brothers William John and Charles. The records show that on 19/12/1911 he was discharged as “Medically Unfit” and “Docs to Chelsea 22/12/11”. No records could be traced for his subsequent military service during the First World War.
There is a record of a Charles Francis Evans, date of birth 11th March 1891, employed as a Cleaner by the Great Western Railway, Wolverhampton Division, from 3rd October 1906 at a rate of 1/6. A record was also found of a Charles Francis Evans, born March 11th 1891, employed as a Labourer on the London and North Western Railway Line at Bushbury Depot on July 25th 1912, rate 20/-, and resigning spontaneously August 20th 1912.
No record of his marriage was traced, although Charles did survive the war. The death of Charles Evans, at age 75, birth date 11th March 1891, was recorded at Wolverhampton in December 1975.