Bert Evans, Warwickshire Regiment. RIP

Discussion in '1940' started by geoff501, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Thought I'd post this in 1940 (mods please move if appropriate)

    Bert Evans D Coy 2nd Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment has died, age 92
    The funeral is at Redditch, October 10th 2013

    Rest In Peace
  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Bert Evans, RIP :poppy:

  3. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  6. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    It's inevitable with the passage of time, but the passing of Bert Evans strikes me particularly - a key witness to Wormhoudt. RIP. :poppy:
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Bert Evans, RIP :poppy:
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I thought I recognised the name.What an ordeal with the perpetrator not brought to justice despite efforts to do so.

    Rest in peace Bert.
  9. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  10. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Not mentioned in the on-line newspaper stories. Bert Evans was given a bravery award by The Royal Humane Society for rescuing a child in difficulty in a swimming pool. He jumped in despite not being able to swim and only having one arm.

  11. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Bert Evans , who has died aged 92, was one of the last survivors of the massacre at Wormhoudt, near the border between France and Belgium, during the withdrawal to Dunkirk.

    Evans was serving with “D” Company 2nd Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2 Royal Warwicks) which, on May 19 1940, came under a devastating air attack near Tournai, suffering many casualties.

    A week later the Royal Warwicks were ordered to hold the village of Wormhoudt at all costs to buy time for the evacuation of thousands of soldiers of the BEF. On May 27 they were dive-bombed by Stukas, and many of the houses in the village were set ablaze.

    The next day the remnants of the battalion — exhausted and out of ammunition — were surrounded by the Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Regiment and forced to surrender. After being interrogated they, together with some RA gunners and men from the Cheshires, were stripped of anything that might identify them — letters, photographs of wives or sweethearts. They were then marched, at the double and under a hot sun, to Esquelbecq, about a mile away.

    [SIZE=1.4em] [/SIZE]The stragglers were shot. The remaining prisoners, some 90 in number, were pushed and prodded by rifle butts into a barn which measured about 10ft by 20ft. Many of them had been wounded during the fierce fighting, and called out for water.

    A German soldier was seen taking a grenade out of his boot. Capt James Lynn-Allen, the senior officer, banged on the bolted door to protest that there was no room for the wounded to lie down. A German officer laughed and replied: “Where you are going, there will be plenty of room.”
    Crammed against the barn door, Evans lit up a last cigarette. “This is it, Bert,” said one of his fellow soldiers. “We are finished.”

    Bert Evans
    Moments later, grenades were lobbed into the barn. With great gallantry, two NCOs, Sergeant Moore and Company Sergeant Major Jennings, threw themselves on top of the grenades — but then the machine-gunners opened fire.
    When the firing stopped, the barn door was opened and the survivors were hauled out in batches of five from among the bodies of their dead comrades, and were shot.
    Before that, however, the explosions from the grenades had forced the Germans to fall back, and in the confusion Lynn-Evans saw a chance to make a run for it. He grabbed hold of Evans, whose arm had been shattered, and the two men managed to stagger some 200 yards and hide in a pond.
    Seeing them trying to escape, an SS officer pursued them. He shot Lynn-Allen in the head at point-blank range and killed him. Evans was shot in the neck, and slid into the pond, where he was left for dead. He was subsequently found by regular German soldiers and taken to a field hospital, where a doctor amputated his right arm. Only a dozen men had survived the massacre.
    Bert Evans was born at Devonport on February 21 1921 and educated locally. He enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment in November 1938 and transferred to the Warwicks a year later.
    In 1943 Evans was repatriated under prisoner exchange arrangements organised by the Red Cross. After the war, some of the survivors, accompanied by members of the War Crimes Interrogation Unit, returned to Wormhoudt, but it was decided that it would be impossible to build a case for prosecution.
    Evans worked as a bath attendant for Birmingham City Council from 1950 until he retired to live at Redditch, Worcestershire, in 1986. In 1955, at Northfield Baths, he saw a child in the water who was in serious difficulty. Despite having only one arm and not being able to swim, he jumped in to help. He received a bravery award from the Royal Humane Society.
    The French authorities and British veteran associations have restored the barn at Wormhoudt. On its walls are wreaths and photographs, reminders of one of the worst atrocities of the Second World War. Evans made many pilgrimages to Esquelbecq with his regimental association to remember Capt Lynn-Allen, the man who had saved his life.
    In retirement he enjoyed fishing, playing darts, bingo, dancing and foreign travel. He had no children of his own, but his sister-in-law’s five children were an important part of his life.
    Bert Evans married, in 1954, Elizabeth Yould, who predeceased him.

    Bert Evans, born February 21 1921, died October 1 2013
    Drew5233 likes this.
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Apparently Bert Evans was repatriated in April 1943.

    Bert stated that on being taken to a POW Camp,he related his ordeal at Wormhout to the British Officer in charge.The officer said "Now, look, tell this story to no one,I know about it,but if the Germans get to know of it,you'll be taken out and you'll be no more.So keep the story to yourself!" So I kept it to myself until April 1943 when I was repatriated.
  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Wise Words !
  14. Avigliana

    Avigliana Active Member

    BBC program recreats the massacre and part of the retreat. The first guy talking is supposed to be Alf Tombs 2nd Battalion Royal Warwicks.
  15. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    The BBC recreation is based on an amalgam of different eyewitness accounts and alters the generally-agreed sequence of events. For example the grenades are thrown into the barn after men are taken out and shot rather than before. Its most glaring difference from the Bert Evans account is that in the film Captain Lynn Allen is shot as he is in the process of remonstrating with an SS officer about the treatment of his men before the massacre proper begins, not while helping Bert Evans to escape from the barn. It is still a very powerful sequence.
  16. Avigliana

    Avigliana Active Member

    Mark Hone

    Thanks for your constructive comments, to find something that is 100% historically correct is unusual to say the leastl.

    Good work about Bert Evans.
  17. Avigliana

    Avigliana Active Member

    A documentary about The Waffen SS and interviews with old Waffen SS veterans and their mentality. It touches on their involvement in The Massacre at Wormhout,
    Bert Evans is asked about his views on The Waffen SS and what happened at Wormhout.
    Waffen SS involvement in other battles/incidents.
  18. A relative George Ronald Pearce died on 28 th may 1940 , he was 2nd battallion
    Royal words. he was only 17 , he lied about his age to join up. He is buried in lenderheim cemetery. My mum still wants to know any details about his death. I have read many horrifying accounts. I don't think he was one of those killed in the bRn massacre due to his place of buriel. I understand that the men buried in the cemetRy were originally elsewhere and buried almost a year later. Any more info would be grateful. Thus ancestry searching us traumatic stuff. I have never been interested in the war but now I have read accounts I need to find out more. Many thanks
  19. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    I have never read that anywhere - do you have a source?

    I can tell you that the Cheshire soldiers also buried at Ledringhem and who definitely were involved in the Wormhoudt Battle along with the 2nd Warks, all came from a the most southerly section (half a platoon - about 14 soldiers) and were fighting alongside D Company of 2nd Warks.

    So I would expect that George Pearce died somewhere in the vicinity and my bet is that he was with D Company of 2nd Warks

    You will find lots of information about the battle and massacre on this website - there is also an excellent book "Massacre on the road to Dunkirk" by the 2nd Warks padre. Leslie Aitken - very cheap at £4 in hardback

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