Dales Dunkirk veteran dies aged 102

Dunkirk veteran, David Evans, attends the unveiling of a monument in Catterick Garrison in 2018. Photo: British Army.

A Dales veteran who was rescued from the beach at Dunkirk has died aged 102.

It is believed David Evans, from Leyburn, was the district’s last remaining Dunkirk veteran.

Mr Evans and his six brothers was brought up in South Wales by their dad Thomas after their mother Miriam died of a blood clot aged just 37.

He joined the Army in 1936 as a regular soldier, later transferring to a mechanised unit, the 13/18 Queen Mary’s Own Royal Hussars.

After marrying his wife Violet, he was among the first to arrive in France following the outbreak of war when in September 1939 he travelled over with the British Expeditionary Force.

David Evans, pictured as a young soldier.

Mr Evans saw action in both Belgium and Holland in a Bren gun carrier team.

He later told how he waited three days to be evacuated from Dunkirk.

He said: “I actually found it quite orderly, despite half the quayside being blown off.

“I hadn’t slept for six days and eaten for three, and I got a place aboard a small fishing boat.

“I settled back against the side of the boat and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up in Dover — I can’t remember anything of the crossing.”

Back in the UK he re-joined his regiment, but later sustained a serious leg injury while playing in a soldiers’ football match.

Despite being told he would never walk properly again, he made a full recovery.

He was transferred to Penrith, Cumbria, to guard a secret military base where covert work took place on the Canal Defence Lights — powerful lights fitted to tanks to dazzle the enemy.

After the war, the veteran joined the police in Kent, retiring after 27 years as a sergeant and moving to Leyburn.

Two of Mr Evans’ brothers also fought and survived the Second World War.

Mr Evans was the secretary of the Richmond branch of the Dunkirk Veterans’ Association until it disbanded due to dwindling numbers.

In 2000, he and 14 fellow members of the association made a final trip to France to pay tribute to fallen comrades.

Celebrating his 100th birthday in 2018, Mr Evans was the guest of honour at the unveiling of a memorial to commemorate the fallen at Camp Centre roundabout in Catterick Garrison.

He said at the time: “I am so honoured and humbled to be unveiling this centrepiece to mark the fallen.

“It is a powerful piece of work that will remind generation after generation of the sacrifices that have been made over the years.

“The military has meant everything to me since I joined up as a 17-year-old so this comes as a wonderful birthday present.”

David, centre sat on the table surrounded by his brothers and father.

Mr Evans was cared for by family friend Gillian Thwaite, from Leyburn, for the last months of his life.

She described him as a “wonderful man”.

“He was kind, caring and had a hell of a sense of humour.

“He loved talking to people and would do anything for anyone.

“I’ve had such lovely messages on Facebook since he died.”

Mr Evans’ funeral will take place at 11am on Monday, August 2 at Darlington Crematorium, followed by a service at St Michael and All Angels Church, Spennithorne, at 1pm.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for covering this Joe, appreciated.

    Joe Jordan – Garrison Commander at the time of the Memorial.

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