Lieutenant Commander H.Clyde Evans

Temporary Lieutenant Commander H. Clyde Evans was a mariner, blockade-runner and  lawyer.  In 1914 he was in England and joined the Royal Naval Division, quickly rising to command D Company of Nelson Battalion.  He was killed in action at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, during the third battle for Krithia.

Herbert Clyde Evans was born on 26 April 1883 in Gisborne and was educated at Gisborne District High School. On leaving school he joined the Union Steam Ship Company as a purser, serving on the SS Waikere.  In 1901 he was on board the three masted scow Ururoa when it was stranded on Waikanae Beach and later went to England on board the SS Mimiro, celebrating his 21st birthday rounding Cape Horn.  In England he served in coastal ships around Britain and France before joining the Peninsula and Orient Line.  In 1904 he was Quartermaster in the SS Formosa when that ship was captured by two Russian auxiliary cruisers in the Red Sea.  This was the time of the Russo-Japanese War and the Russians were attempting to prevent contraband cargo reaching Japan.  International protests however resulted in all captured ships, including the Formosa being released.  After this he was running the Japanese blockade of Vladivostock and became snowbound there, where he was severely affected by snow-blindness and lost his sight for a week.  Although he recovered his sight it was so affected that he was unable to pass the eyesight test for Master Mariner.

Clyde was running the Japanese blockade of Vladivostock and became snowbound there, where he was severely affected by snow-blindness and lost his sight for a week.

Returning to London, Clyde entered St. John’s College, Cambridge where he gained his B.A. and L.L.B. degrees.  On graduating he took the position of Manager of the London office of Derome Bros., a French engineering firm.  Meanwhile Clyde continued studying for a law degree, securing a scholarship for the Inns of Court and intending to qualify as a pleader at the Admiralty Court.  Having arranged to join a prominent K.C. Clyde travelled to Rheims a town on the German border, to tender his resignation in person to the Derome Brothers.  War broke out while he was in transit and when he arrived the factory was in ruins.  Attempting to leave he was detained by German officials and it was ten days before he could obtain a passport.

Returning to London Clyde approached the Admiralty and was appointed a Sub Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 1 October 1914 and posted to Nelson Battalion of the Royal Naval Division (RND).  After three weeks induction training at Chrystal Palace he went to the RND Depot at Blandford for further training.  Nelson was one of twelve battalions that made up the RND.

The Division left Blandford in February 1915 and on the 28th of the month Clyde was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant and was appointed Personal Assistant to Major General Sir Archibald Paris, Royal Marines, the Divisional Commander.  With the staff, Clyde embarked in HM Transport Franconia, one of six transports taking the Division to what for most was an unknown destination.  The ships arrived off Gallipoli in mid-March, before the decision to make a landing had been made.  Once it was the Division was sent to Port Said in order that the transports could be re-loaded for the landing.  During this time Clyde was again promoted, to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Commander and on 15 April relinquished this staff position and re-joined Nelson Battalion, taking command of Division Company.

At dawn intense fire was opened at close range by the Turks, but enough cover had been created to enable the new section of line to be held.  One of the casualties during the night was Lieutenant Commander Clyde Evans.

On 25 April, while the Plymouth Royal Marines and Anson Battalion went ashore at Cape Helles, the remainder of the RND was with the French in a diversion at Bulair.  In the prelude to this demonstration, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Freyberg earned the DSO. Much hard fighting ensued over the next days, with the RND now all ashore at Cape Helles, where the Turkish forces had concentrated their defence around the village of Krithia.  While this was taking place the situation at ANZAC was becoming critical and part of the RND, including Nelson Battalion was moved to reinforce the troops there on 28 April.  On 2 May a night attack took place with the objective of capturing Pope’s Hill and the high ground either side.  Initially in reserve, only A and B companies of Nelson Battalion were engaged, both suffering heavy casualties.  Nevertheless the situation stabilised and the RND returned to Cape Helles.

On 4 June the third battle of Krithia began with an assault over open ground at midday.  Seventy officers and 1,900 men of the RND engaged of whom only 5 officers and 950 men remained at the 12.45pm.  Part of the attack was successful, but this resulted in there being a gap between the two ends of the line.  Instead of mounting another attack it was decided that D company of Nelson Battalion would, overnight, dig a series of entrenchments to cover the gap.  This was accomplished despite continuous enemy fire and heavy casualties.  At dawn intense fire was opened at close range by the Turks, but enough cover had been created to enable the new section of line to be held.  One of the casualties during the night was Lieutenant Commander Clyde Evans.  On 5 November in the London Gazette, Clyde’s name was Mentioned in Despatches.