There are two intriguing glimpses of Owen Evans, Thomas and Evelina’s best man, in some documents kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride.
Elizabeth’s father was Sir Lindsay Ride, the founder of the British Army Aid Group, a Hong Kong resistance movement. The BAAG made contact with the camps and the ‘uninterned’ allied civilians sometime in June 1942. The Americans were repatriated at the end of that month, leaving about 80 Allied nationals in occupied Hong Kong. The two biggest concentrations were bankers at the Sun Wah Hotel – kept out to liquidate their banks and perform other functions useful to the occupiers – and Selwyn-Clarke’s team of health workers at the French Hospital. Scattered around Hong Kong were half a dozen or so missionaries, some public utilities workers, a few employees of the Dairy Farm company, and a number of Allied nationals claiming to be Irish.
Owen Evans lived alongside Thomas (and eventually Evelina) at the French Hospital and delivered the bread and no doubt other things as well. He’d been a driver with the Friends Ambulance Unit, caught in Hong Kong where he’d been on a recreational break with his brother Llewellyn, who managed to get out just in time. Staff Sergeant Sheridan began his escape on June 4, and in the seven page statement he made soon after arriving in New Delhi he says this:
A Mr. Owen Evans of the Friends Ambulance Unit, who was doing voluntary work for the hospitals, had, entirely on his own, got permission from the head of the Japanese Civil Administration, to proceed to the Portuguese colony of Macau to interview the British Consul about funds for relief work in Hong Kong for British nationals.
He had all necessary arrangements completed on the 4th June, and expected to leave in a day or two.
N. B. This was done without the knowledge of the Gendarmes, and should not be made public in case the Gendarmes hear of it and show resentment.
Through the good offices of Bernice Archer, I contacted Mr. Wilhelm Snyman who’s about to publish an edition of the diary of John Reeves, the courageous Macau Consul. He wasn’t aware of any mention of this visit in the diary, but he’s kindly checking. Even if the visit never took place, arranging such an enterprise behind the backs of the Kempeitai shows Evans’s initiative, courage and humanitarianism. He’s the tall man standing next to the bride in the wedding photo, and I’d love to know if he’d recently got back from an excursion to Macao! If so, he might well be unique: the only Allied civilian to make the round trip during the years of the occupation.
The next reference to him comes in a report based on an interview with the escaped Irish doctor J. P. Fehilly (who read through and corrected the typescript):
Owen Evans Selwyn-Clarke did a dirty trick on him, taking away his official position, because he was doing some really good work though his connections with the Quakers.
Fehilly and his wife began their escape (via Macao and Kwong Chow Wan) on October 25, 1942. Another source tells us that Evans, as well as his work as a delivery driver, had been ‘engaged in relief and Red Cross work, including the organization of a home for destitute Chinese’. Exactly what Selwyn-Clarke did or why he did it is not known, but it probably relates to this relief work. The same source tells us that Evans was out of Stanley for nine months. That would tie in with his entering camp soon after Fehilly’s escape, perhaps as a direct result of Selwyn-Clarke’s actions. His name isn’t on the BAAG list of those living at the French Hospital in December 1942.