At the time of his death he was serving with the Jansenville District Mounted Troops, being discharged from the Tasmanian Contingent and choosing to serve on. Sadly, Evans is the only Tasmanian (although not the only Australian) to die from his own hand, August 15, 1901. The inquest stated that he committed suicide at Klipplaat while "of unsound mind".
No reflection should be made of those troopers who took their own lives, an action which has been repeated particularly in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Unfortunately not until after the First World War were such occurrences viewed more compassionately; a step which was the result in most cases due to extraordinary pressures and fatigue. With consistency those who died by their own hand have been overlooked by official accounts. Evans is no exception.
Jansenville where Evans was serving at the time of his death, is a remote area of the Eastern Cape Province. The district was not a military threat to the British at this particular time. It is unfortunate more intimate details concerning Evans's demise is hard to come by as the complete file of the Court of Inquiry is missing!
But we do know a little of his early background. He was born October 8, 1880 in Hobart, the youngest and seventh son of Hubert and Agnes Roseanna (nee Symons) and attended Hutchins School He was grandson of James Evans, who arrived free in Tasmania on the ship Regalia, in 1822. He enlisted from Sandy Bay and served with the Draft to the 1st between 20 Feb - 3 Nov 1900. As we have learnt he was granted a commission in the South African Colonial Defence Force; District Mounted Troops. The Tasmanian Mail (Aug 31, 1901 P.12) states when reporting his death: "Lt Evans, late Tasmanian Mounted Infantry has died at Klipplaat. Evans has offered up his young life. Deceased was a resident of Sandy Bay, son of H.B. Evans, shipowner* of Hobart and brother to Mr L.A. Evans of the Agricultural Department. Served with Major Cameron and was made acting Lieutenant of the Midland Mounted Infantry in the Cape Colony. He was afterwards placed in charge of Klipplaat. The deceased and his early death in the service of his country will be lamented by a large circle." There is no mention how he died, but he certainly was a bachelor.
There is an alternative story regarding Evan's death, but does not meet up with the true hard, tragic, facts. The story is that a body of Boer troops known as `loyal Dutchman' of which Lieutenant was commandant, turned on him and shot him thus causing his death. This version was purportedly told to members of Evan's family by the late Lieutenant Colonel F.R. Chalmers CMG DSO, who was beheaded by the Japanese during the war on Nauru as he was the administrator of the island for the Australian Government.
Evan's name is carried on both the Hobart and Launceston Memorials. He is not listed in "Those that died from Tasmanian Regiments" probably because he was serving with non-Australian regiments at the time of his death. Murray completely omits him in the casualty list, though mentions him on page 550 of his book as a member of the 1st Tasmanian. Bufton printed an enlarged photo of him, but no notes.
In summary, Lieutenant Evans served Tasmania with distinction. He was a brave and talented soldier, his service records testify to that. With records `missing' pertaining to why he committed suicide one can only theorise the reasons.
* He was also a Hobart alderman.
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