“A VICTIM OF WAR”

From The Tribunal 21st June 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and Novemeber 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Still another name has been added to the growing list of those who lost their lives to the crusade against militarism. We have sorrowfully to record the death on May 27th, at his home in Strathnairn Street, Cardiff, of John Evans, a young clerk of 24, formerly in the employ of a well-known local firm. Evans did not belong to any political or kindred organisation, but was a member of the Tredegarville Baptist Church, and was privately studying for the ministry. Almost from his cradle he was a true Christian, simple and unassuming to a degree, but absolutely rocklike in his faith and determination. His early ambition had been to become a missionary at the Congo, a choice of locale which proved his indifference to personal danger. Evans could accept no form of military service, though he was prepared to do civil work of national importance. Having refused to join the Non-Combatant Corps, he was court-martialed on June 23rd and sentenced to 112 days’ hard labour. During the imprisonment – at Cardiff Gaol – he was offered and accepted the Home Office scheme, yet he was compelled to serve his sentence through to September. His health first became affected by the prison diet, which he could not assimilate. But the prison doctor passed him as fit for navvying, and a few hours later he was removed without notice to Newhaven (Home Office) Camp. Road-making under the conditions prevailing up to Christmas, and when the accommodation was limited to tents, before the new huts were ready, was hardly likely to suit a man emaciated from prison life. John Evans gradually declined, but not a word of complaint reached his home, which he was still not allowed to visit. After six months at Newhaven where the official doctor declared him free of organic diseasr, he was sent to Wakefield Centre, the Medical Officer of which certified him to be in advanced stage of consumption. On Easter Monday of this year the mother heard indirectly and for the first time of his serious condition, and application to the Home Office resulted in permission being given to bring the dying lad home. Before leaving the camp he was given an official discharge by the agent. The strong and sturdy youth who had left home on June 8th, 1916, “never having had a day’s illness,” as his mother said, breathed his last on Whit-Sunday of 1917. He died in the flower of his youth, feeling to the end no bitterness or reproach, consious only that he had done his duty and served his only Master. Those who are left behind may be pardoned for a less saintlike attitude towards certain authorities – the man who have maladministered the Military Service Acts, and those who under the pretence of furnishing work of national importance, have imposed injurious and punishing conditions of labour.

John Evans gave his life willingly for his faith. He believed the war was wrong and that Christ would have taken no part in it, and that it was his duty to follow his Master, no matter what the consequences. The minister who had known him all his life and who performed the last sad rites, called him a very brave and noble soul. The superintendent of the Sunday School he had always attended, was moved to say: “I did not agree with John’s views, but I am bound to say that he was as much a victiom of the war as any soldier who has fallen in the trenches.”

dove..