THE EARLY YEARS
(Source: Daughter from Joseph Richard Evans)
Battery B, 924th Field Artillery
Joseph Richard Evans (“Dick”) was born on October 17, 1920 to Charles E. Evans and Wenonah (nee Muirhead/Miller) in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Family lore has it that his mother went to the hospital, just a few blocks from their home at 347 Owen Ave., only to be told that it was not yet time. Apparently, Dick had not got the message and wound up being born at home. He was the last of Charles and Wenonah’s children, the others being Dorothy Carol, Charles E. (Jr.) and Harry Rodney.
Dick, brought up an Episcopalian, attended St. John the Evangelist Church (Lansdowne, PA). While here, he was a member of the church choir. No doubt this is where his love of music began. (Up to this time there is no evidence of a musical background on either side of his family.)
Dick attended Garrettford Elementary School and then Upper Darby High School, both located in Drexel Hill. In high school, in addition to being in the choir, he participated in the following clubs: A Cappella Choir, Dramus (Chorus) and Le Cercle Francais. He also was a member of “The Esquires,” a quartet comprised of Dick Bodtke, Dick Kowalski, Jim Pepper and pianist Myron Nichols
Following his graduation from Upper Darby High School in 1938, Dick went on to study Public School Music at West Chester State Teachers College.
During his Junior and Senior years, Dick performed the following pieces:
March 1940 Ride On by [John Prindle] Scott
October 1940 Gypsy Jim by Victor Herbert
November 1940 Out on the Deep by [F. W.] Loehr
November 1941 Performed at Y.W.C.A. Parents’ Weekend Tea
The Blind Ploughman by [Robert Coningsby] Clarke
April 1942 Le Cor by Fiegler, Hear Me, Ye Winds and Waves by Handel, and The Sussex Sailor by Charles
Additionally, he portrayed Stephen Minch in the senior play “The Star Wagon” by Maxwell Anderson.
In 1942, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Public School Music.
West Chester State Teachers College kept its students apprised regarding the status and requirements of the draft through articles in the student paper Quad Angles.
The story goes that he reported for the draft but was denied after it was determined that he had flat feet. However, he later “volunteered,” at which time he was accepted. To date, no evidence has been located to support this claim.
According to his Draft Registration Card, D.S.S. Form 1, Dick registered for the draft February 16, 1942, five months after his 21st birthday.
He enlisted 3 December 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But was “Inactive Service ERC from 3 December 1942 to 9 December 1942.
The rest of J. Richard Evans’s military service is based on information found in a leather-bound photo album/diary presumed compiled by him. It is titled “A Pictorial Record of Three Years Service in the U. S. ARMY.” Rather than re-write the contents of the album, an outline of dates, places and names follows.
15 December 1942 to 20 September 1943: Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi
Baker Battery, 924th Field Artillery, 99th Infantry Division
Buddies: Sam Woronkoff, “Chuck” Willis, “Jerry” Murphy, Trigger, Norm, Jim
19 February 1943: Member of the instrument section. Per Memo of same date, Capt. James H. Gallaway recommended him for the position of Warrant Officer (band leader) which Dick had requested.
According to a piece published November 12, 1943, in West Chester State’s paper “Quad Angles,” Corporal Evans started out at Camp Van Dorn and then continued training “somewhere in Louisiana.” During this time, he utilized both his educational and vocal training. He taught reading and writing to 25 “illiterates and sang a solo at the camp’s Easter Sunrise Service (an audience of about 3,500 men).
- d.: Three months maneuvers in Mississippiand Louisiana
20 November 1943 to 15 September 1944: Camp Maxey, Paris, Texas – Headquarters Battery 924
December 1943: Corporal J. Richard Evans was to return home (Lansdowne) from Camp Maxey, Texas, on a short furlough.
With nieces Judy (standing) and Nancy Evans (1943)
23 March 1944: Cpl. Richard Evans sang at a meeting of the Lions Club.
9 April 1944: Cpl. J. Richard Evans performed the following pieces during the Easter Day service held at Church of the Holy Cross: “The Crucifixion” (Pearl Curran) and “As It Began to Dawn (F. Flaxington Harker)
9 April 1944: Church of the Holy Cross – Vocal prelude and offertory solo by Cpl. J. Richard Evans
April 1944: Cpl. Richard Evans participated in a program of Easter music at the Grand Avenue USO Club.
26 May 1944: Cpl. Richard Evans performed several vocal numbers during the musical part of the Rotary Club meeting.
From Texas, the division traveled by train to Camp Myles Standish, Taunton, Massachusetts, the second week of September.
Another family story is that Dick’s mother (Wenonah) received a call from one of her relatives in Boston, MA (date unknown). Wenonah was told that “there was a package for her” and that she should get up there as quickly as possible. Apparently, Dick knew of his mother’s aunts and cousins who resided in that area, had gotten word to them that he was shipping out from Boston and asked that they notify his mom. To the best of my knowledge, she got up there in time to see him before he shipped out.
29 September 1944: Boarded ships including the George W. Goethals, Explorer and Argentina.
29 September 1944 to 10 October 1944: Sailed from U. S. to England
6 November 1944: Arrived in France
11 November 1944: Fired first combat round from CP, Elsenborn, Belgium
16 December 1944: Von Rundstedt attacked
- d.: Aubel, Kalterherberg, Elsenborn, Rockerath, Elsenborn, Rockerath
n.d.: After three months of combat, we took a break in Eibertingen [Belgium]
Cologne Plain towns mentioned: Stolberg, Elsdorf, Glesch, Auenheim, Deelen and Rosellen
Along the way he met up with members of the Air Liaison Section
- d.: The page titled “Train Guards” includes a hand drawn “map” showing the following route:
Wunsiedel → Hof → Bamberg → along the Main to Mainz → across the Rhine → Thionville up to Luxembourg. Liege is noted above that.
He noted on the same page “We race the Bn to Bremerhaven —— (via France)
- d.: “Pals in the 33rdField” – Elsenfeldjust before leaving
- d.: “The Rhineat Mainz,” from Hofto Liege.
February 1945: “Siegfried Line,” Hollerath, Germany
In 1945 Sgt. Richard Evans wrote from “somewhere in Germany.” He contrasts “our great and powerful war material looks so out of place…especially in the older towns which have not been marred by shells, bombs, and bullets.”
- d.: “Views of the War”
“What do we do in the Infantry? We march, we march we march.”
No-man’s Land: OP-CP
Bridging the Danube River
- d.: Neuendettelsau, Germany— Retreat sounds
- d.: “The Main Valley,” crossing the Main River
- d.: “Going to Schweinfurt,” looking across the Main River
June: Gerolzhofen –- Some of Hq Btry Personnel
- d.: “HQ BTRY 924 FA BN” First Sargent, Horizontal Control Operator[J. Richard Evans]
4 July 1945: Sgt. Pounds bids us “adieu”
- d.: Heidenheim, Germany; HQ. Btry 334rd FA BN 1st US Inf Div— Hechtlingen[sic] [Bavaria]
- d.: Schönbrvnn[sic], Germany— CP
- d. [8 May 1945]: “VE Day Activity”
Sol H. [Goodgal]
Me [J. Richard Evans]
2 May 1945: “Cease Fire at Altfrauhofen”
Lt. Ralph D. Stacy
S/Sgt. Wilmer Barts
Tec4 Will Hinz
26 May 1945 Letter from Dick to his mother Wenonah Evans. He starts it by stating: “This will most likely be my first uncensored letter to you in eight months.” Not only does this provide information about his experiences to date, but it includes photos and text describing each one.
Me (J. Richard Evans)
Lt. Earl Benjamin
Admiral Von Spee
Gen’l. Geo. Patton
Boeh (pronounced Bay)
Bernard “Jim” Glassmacher
HCO 924th FA
Third US Army
Fourteenth Armored Div.
East of the Rhine
Other Terms Mentioned
Prisoners of War
NO Fire Order
- d.: “Gerolzhofen, After the War’s End”
924th FA Bn Command Post & Officers Quarters[sic]
June: “The Pool at Gerolzhofen
Paul “Wop” Raffa
15 September 1945: London — 3 days of enjoyment
August 1945: “Paris” — A Three Day Pass
- d.: “Ulm, Germany”
9 September 1945: “Lower Peover” — 7 day furlough in the United Kingdom
September: “Camp Pall Mall, Etretat, France”
: “More views of Etretat”
Myself [J. Richard Evans]
“Chateau Hq’s for troops returning from furlough in the U.K.”
- d.: “The A.R.C. Club” [location not indicated]
- d.: “The Hay Ride and — Picnic” — It was NEW JERSEY day at the ARC
24 December: “Nancy, France”
- d.: “The Fellows”
Myself [J. Richard Evans]
- d.: “Our Gang”
Figure 3 J. Richard “Dick” Evans
- d.: “Luxembourg” with Fred& Milton
- d.: “At Elsenfeld, Germany”
The Main River at Obernburg and Elsenfeld
For three months following VE Day, Dick studied music at the University of Nancy, Nancy, France. While later traveling with his family in Montreal, Quebec, (which is largely French speaking) his wife asked why he didn’t just speak French. Dick’s reply was along the lines, “Because, once you get them started, they speak really fast!” Apparently, one of his favorite French phrases became, “Plus lentement s’il vous plait! Plus lentement!”
“After Nancy I returned to the 33rd and found them located in Elsenfeld”
3 February to 15 February 1946: Bremerhaven
15 February 1946 to 26 February 1946: Fayetteville Victory
Brother Charles E. Evans, Jr.’s car dealership
Cugley’s Pet Shop, Germantown, PA
Talmadge Tours, Tour Guide, Philadelphia, PA
First Pennsylvania Bank, Philadelphia, PA
Fidelity Bank, Philadelphia, PA
Department of Banking, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania