|1. Memorial:||Thiepval Memorial||Pier&Face 12D&13B. Picardie|
|2. Book:||The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918||Pg.137|
|3. Memorial:||The (1933) Scroll - Roll of Honour||22D GQS|
Awards & Titles:
Family :Son of Herbert Stanley Vaughan and Emma Sophia Vaughan of 12 Southwell Gardens, South Kensington London.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit :||13th Battalion Middlesex Regiment|
|Action :||The Battles of the Somme 1916|
Brother Evan James Stanley Vaughan is known to us through the discovery of previously undiscovered unpublished personal letters to his fiancee, so his story after his return from the Far East has become darkness made visible. The letters, with other correspondence about Brother Vaughan, were found in a shoe box, over 100 items in all, in a junk room of a house purchased by a Mr. Osmund Bullock in which Brother Vaughan's fiancee had lived, but I get ahead of myself. Evan James Stanley Vaughan was born on 9 February 1890. His father was a supply and victualling officer in a Plymouth shipyard. He and his younger brother (Herbert) attended Dulwich College, a public school in London, from 1903 to 1906. He did not shine at school. He did not sit the end of year examinations in the year he left for some reason so did not matriculate. He left at Vth form level on the 'Modern' side, he was not in any school team nor did he hold office in any school society or club but as he was two years from the top of the school when he left, perhaps this is not surprising. He joined the army, probably a reserve unit, and was a keen member of the Old Boys' Football Club but then, 5 years after leaving school, he went to Kobe where, although registered as a 'Clerk', he was a junior executive of a merchant firm George Dodwell and Co exporting, probably among other things, Japanese silk. He lived at 158 Kitanagasa - Dori which has long since been demolished. However it was quite high class district with many colonial style residences and was about 20 minutes walk from the main foreign business area.
He was initiated in May 1912, passed in September and raised in November. In January 1915 he became Junior Warden. He did not complete his year in office as little more than a month or so later he returned to Britain and was commissioned on 26 March 1915 into the East Kent Regt, better known as The Buffs. His unit went to France landing on 2 September 1915 but he traveled separately a few weeks later. In France he was attached to, and later , in February 1916 transferred into the 13th battalion the Middlesex Regiment. During the period of his training in Britain he met Alfrida Mary Evelyn Roloff who was twenty one in 1915. 'Freda', as she was called, was the daughter of a Professor of Music and was herself a professional musician; a pianist, accompanist, teacher but in particular a cinema pianist in the pre-talkies era. The courtship was swift in the circumstances and shortly before leaving for France he proposed to Freda on 28 September 1915 and was accepted. Rather a bossy type, in a post engagement letter he was advising Freda 'The more I think of it, the less I like the idea of your having anything to do with the theatrical world'. On the 25 October 1915 he landed in France. He was 25 years old and he had under ten months to live. Evan wrote on average every 4 days but often, when time permitted, daily, and he clearly got relief from the horrors around him both by writing and receiving letters. There are 81 letters written by Brother Vaughan. On most of the envelopes is a signed stamp 'I certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters'. Nevertheless he arranges in an early letter a little code to let Freda know where he is but the code is not used much. His unit occupies only one section of the line until his death. The letters from France are in pencil and give glimpses of life in the trenches as well as being love letters. On 14 November 1915 he writes "My platoon on to (sic) way to the trenches had nearly reached the front line when one fellow reported that he had sunk in the mud well over his knees and could not move - the more he moved the more he tired and sank and my fear was that in his exertions he would faint and that would make the matter fatal as we were exposed to German rifle fire. However after 1/2 hour floundering and heaving in the pale moonlight we managed to rescue him but it fully exhausted the energies of 3 men and myself in so doing. The place where he sank was a veritable quicksand. Now it is all over there is every ground for a smile to those with a sense of humour - a sense of humour is most essential in this soldiering game".
At the beginning of May he writes many thanks for yours of the 27th (incidentally in 1916 it took the post four days from London to the front line trenches in France) which reached me the night the enemy released gas over our trenches - a new and unpleasant experience for me. The day had been lovely and the country was looking delightful; and then a cloud of poison came over, fouling the air, bleached and desecrated the countryside and killed the rats in hundreds: they were to be seen when the light came being in quantities all along the trenches - it had brought them out of their holes: my lungs are affected to some extent..(but)..I am feeling fit again. Brother Vaughan had a short leave in mid-February 1915, and a further leave in Britain in late May 1916, only a few days each. Leaves were usually every 4 months. but this was the last time he was to see Freda. The Craft is not mentioned in any of the 81 letters from Brother Evan for a simple reason. Freda was a Roman Catholic. Initially he does not intend to convert but as time passes (days, not weeks) he changes his opinion and seeks instruction in the Catholic faith. This would inevitably have led to him leaving the Craft given the opposition of the Catholic Church to the craft. Our brother was not immediately involved in the Battle of the Somme but tension is rising in his letters which become more frequent and have an impression of apprehension. He and Freda now plan to married on his next leave. He tells Freda that his income is adequate at GBP 400 per annum (HK$ 6,400 a year). Freda realises they will live in Japan. The final letters are not stacked in sequence, possibly because Freda has re-read them.
The orders for the last fight are chilling in their impersonal detail. 'The attack of the 73rd Infantry Brigade will be delivered on a frontage of two battalions as under: Right Attack 13th Middlesex Regt....The attack will be preceded and supported by Heavy Artillery The artillery will lift and the infantry will advance in accordance with the timetable'. The attack was a complete failure. An onlooker in another unit wrote 'Simultaneously out got a line of forms from the British trenches, the first wave, and disappeared into the smoke or hell as it seemed' Brother Vaughan never returned. His battalion diary for the 18th August reads: '2:45 [pm]: Battalion attacked Guillemont trenches but was held up just outside them by Machine Guns from a strong point on the right and then heavily shelled while lying in the open. CAPTs REED, JAMES, & VAUGHAN killed'. His last letter was received by Freda after his death. My darling Freda - the days seem to roll by...had it not been for the perpetual struggle now in progress I might (now) have been building a few days deep happiness in England with you.... (If you visit Guillemont today you can see exactly where the german machine guns were). Freda was told of his death in a letter from his father headed 'Read this first' underlined three times. 'My dearest child - It is with great sorrow for you and to our greatest grief that I am writing...your only consolation at this moment you must derive from the fact that we are hit (hurt?) and heartbroken for you in lamenting the fate of such a man and a hero, of whom we all felt so proud' . Letters of condolence poured in and were tidily parceled. The box also contained two bronze buttons of the Middlesex Regiment.
It only remains to account for the fate of Freda. She never married but remained in her mother's house after her mother died, eking out a living as a pianist and a teacher. Freda joined The Royal Society of Musicians, a benevolent institution, in 1927. She subsequently fell ill in the mid-1950s with various problems of old age and extreme poverty, inability to pay the cost of a taxi to attend hospital is recorded. In December 1959 she became an in-patient at the West London Hospital and died on 21st February 1961. She left insufficient money for the funeral. There was no appeal to the Craft or Brother Evan's lodge for assistance, I am convinced that she did not know he was a Mason. This was unfortunate as I know that although she had never married our brother, the Rising Sun Lodge would have willingly helped. Evan Vaughan is also commemorated in the 'Foreigner's Cemetery' in Motomachi, Yokohama, on a WW1 memorial to allied (non-Japanese) soldiers who were in some way connected with Japan, and who died during the war. Additional research by Paul Corser, Hong Kong
A Newspaper Article Source unknown and most likely dated to be shortly after his death in Aug 1916 shows: "Captain EVAN JAMES STANLEY VAUGHAN, Middlesex Regiment (killed in action August 18), was twenty-six years of age and the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Stanley Vaughan. He was educated at Moulton Grammar School and Dulwich College. He served in the West Kent Yeomanry under Captain Bertram Stewart, who was killed at the Aisne in September, 1914. Captain Vaughan went to Japan in 1911, but gave up his very promising business career soon after the outbreak of war and received a commission in the Buffs. He was transferred and promoted captain in the Middlesex Regiment, 1916. His marriage was to have taken place shortly. His Commanding Officer writes in a letter to his mother: " He died leading his men into action in the most gallant way; he has been one of my most reliable company commanders."
He is commemorated at the King's College Chapel, on the Thiepval Memorial and on the Foreigner's Great War Memorial, Yokohama, Japan.
The Battle of the Somme 1st July - 18th November 1916 is inevitably characterised by the appalling casualties (60,000) on the first day, July 1st 1916. Having failed to break through the German lines in force, and also failed to maximise opportunities where success was achieved, the battle became a series of attritional assaults on well defended defence in depth. The battle continued officially until 18th November 1916 costing almost 500,000 British casualties. German casualties were about the same, and French about 200,000. The Somme could not be counted a success in terms of ground gained or the cost, but it had a strategic impact as it marked the start of the decline of the German Army. Never again would it be as effective whilst the British Army, learning from its experience eventually grew stronger to become a war winning army. The German High Command recognised that it could never again fight another Somme, a view that advanced the decision to invoke unrestricted submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain of food and material, and in doing so accelerated the United States declaration of war thus guaranteeing the eventual outcome. 287 Brethren were killed on the Somme in 1916.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Rising Sun No. 1401 E.C.||Hong Kong & Far East|
22nd May 1912
18th September 1912
13th November 1912
The 1921 Masonic Roll of Honour lists Evan Vaughan as a Past District Grand Sword Bearer, which at present given his position as Lodge Junior Warden seems unlikely. We are investigating.
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry