GEORGE WILLIAM BEVAN
George Bevan belonged to another of the working class families living in School Lane in the heart of old Hoose. The Bevans were not an old established Hoylake family. They came from Staffordshire. George’s father, Isaac Bevan, was born in December 1868 in Stowe. In 1886 he married Mary Ann Allen, who was born in 1865 and died in 1894. George was their third and last child. By 1901, the widowed Isaac was boarding in the household of William and Maria Hatton in Shaw’s Yard on Market Street. He was a stone mason. He did not have his children with him at that time. Isaac had probably moved to Hoylake to be near his brother, William, who, in 1901 was living at 5 Hazel Road. Isaac later married local girl Phoebe Ann-Marie Woods (1878-1955) and they had seven children, two of whom had died by 1911. During the latter year, Isaac and Phoebe were living with their five children at 5 School Lane – a four roomed cottage. George William did not live with them at that time. Soldiers Died in the Great War says that he lived in Liverpool before the War, but the Deeside Advertiser says that he was employed by Watkins the grocers, who had branches in West Kirby and Hoylake (the firm which, as we have seen, also employed Richard Benyon).
George joined the Liverpool Pals in September 1914 and went to France on 17th December 1915. The Deeside Advertiser reported that he had “seen a lot of service and (had) been twice wounded” by the time of his death. This is not surprising when we remember that his battalion was part of 30th Division which took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and in the pursuit of the German Army to the Hindenburg line in early 1917. The date of George’s death is very familiar – Easter Monday 1917, the first day of the Battle of Arras. He must have fallen in the First Battle of the Scarpe. George’s battalion left its assembly trenches south of Neuville Vitasse at 11.38 am, aiming to capture German positions called Lion Lane, Panther Lane and the Egg. They advanced across the 2,000 yards of a very open part of No Man’s Land and were shattered by machine gun and artillery fire. The few men who got to the German barbed wire found it to be intact and were unable to break through. All they could do was dig in and sit tight until they were relieved by the 19th Battalion the Manchester Regiment at 3.00 am the next day; they took no further part in the battle.
Two officers and 49 other ranks were killed. Clearly, George was one of the latter. He was leading his platoon when he fell. The Deeside Advertiser said that George had “… a reputation for being absolutely fearless – in fact, he met his death through continuing to go on although wounded.” George’s is a poignant and representative story of a young man from unremarkable origins and humble employment, some of whose inner strengths and hidden talents were firstly exposed and later extinguished by war.
Birth: 1892 in Stafford
Death: 19th April 1917 killed in action aged 25
Addresses: Possibly 5 School Lane, Hoylake before 1911 and Liverpool in 1914
Occupation: Grocer’s Assistant
Unit: 18th/2nd City Bn. The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Number and Rank: 14932 Sergeant
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Neuville Vitasse Road Cemetery, near Arras A. 16.
Sources: BR, SDGW, CWGC, MC, FT, DA
JOHN ROWLANDS BEVAN
John Bevan was first cousin to the above George Bevan. John’s father, William was born in Staffordshire in about 1858 and was the brother of Isaac, whom he probably invited to come and live in Hoylake after Isaac’s wife died in 1894. By 1881 he was living in the household of Sarah Rowlands (née Bird, born 1834), the widow of John Rowlands (1836-1876), on Bank Road in Hoylake as a lodger. He was a bricklayer. His future wife, Catherine Rowlands (born in 1860) was one of Sarah’s daughters. She was not living at home at that time, but in Hoylake vicarage, where she worked as a housemaid for the Reverend John Yolland. It is easy to imagine her visiting her mother at home and catching the eye of the young lodger. They married in the June quarter of 1883. John was born in the September quarter and was given his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. The couple went on to have a further nine children. Unusually, two of them were called George. The first, George Henry, however, seems to have been known by his middle name because the Deeside Advertiser of 24th September 1915 carried an article which discussed rumours that “Harry” Bevan of School Lane (the family were living at number 24 by 1911) had been wounded and reported that he was the brother of “Douglas” Bevan who was in the navy. The latter was William Douglas Bevan, the family’s second son. The second George also had Rowlands as his middle name; he was born in 1892 and died in 1981. He served as a stoker in the Royal Navy. This is another example of a large and intricate family, living within the densely populated centre of Hoylake, many of whose members were contemporaneously serving in the war, just like many of their neighbours, peers and probable friends.
Unfortunately, John’s military records are not thorough. We know that, firstly, he joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment in Birkenhead, but we cannot tell when and which battalion. Neither can we discern when he was sent to France or why he was transferred to another infantry regiment before joining the Royal Engineers. Given the date of John’s death and his place of burial, it seems likely that he fell during the first day of the Battle of Bailleul, during the Germans’ Spring Offensive of 1918. The Liverpool Echo of 29th April 1918 carried the notice of his death and stated that his wife Jane (née Farrington, born in Ellesmere Port in 1883) was living at 9 Newton Road and John’s parents at Laurel Cottage both in Hoylake. Given his deep local roots, it is not clear why his name does not appear on the Grange Hill Memorial, whereas that of his cousin does.
Birth: September 1883 in Hoylake
Death: 13th April 1918, killed in action aged 34
Addresses: 5 Hazel Road, Hoylake (91-01), 9 Newton Road, Hoylake (18)
Occupation: Plumber’s Apprentice (01)
Unit: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, King’s Liverpool Regiment, 208th Field Coy. Royal Engineers
Number(s) and Rank: 49464, 55004, (T)3411 and 542345 Private and Sapper
Medals Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: H, France: Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension III. G. 124.
Sources: BR, SDGW, CWGC, MC, LE, FT, Census: 91, 01