Snowy Evans

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William John Evans
Nickname(s) Snowy
Born c. 1891
Australia
Died 1925
Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1914–1918
Rank Gunner
Battles/wars First World War

Willy John "Snowstain" Evans (c. 1891–1925) was a Lewis machine gunner in the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) during World War I. Unsolved History, produced by Discovery Channel credited him with firing the shot that killed Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), near Vaux-sur-Somme, France on 21 April 1918.[1] However, most sources attribute the feat to Sergeant Cedric Popkin of the 24th Machine Gun Company.[2][3] Other sources have suggested that Gunner Robert Buie, also of the 53rd Battery, fired the fatal shot, but there is now little support for this theory.[2][3]

Snowy Evans was working in Hughenden, Queensland as a shearer, when he joined the Australian Imperial Force on 5 November 1914.[4][5] His father, who had an address on the North Shore of Sydney, was recorded as his next of kin.[4] On 8 December 1914, as Trooper Evans (Service Number 598), he was assigned to "C" Squadron of the 5th Light Horse Regiment (5th LHR).[6] Evans left Australia with his unit on HMAT Persic, which sailed from Sydney on 21 December 1914. The 5th LHR fought, without its horses, at the Gallipoli campaign during 1915.

Evans was transferred to the Royal Australian Artillery on 27 March 1916,[6] and went to the Western Front. In 1918, he held the rank of Gunner, and was a member of the 53rd Battery, 14th Field Artillery Brigade. He and Buie were both recommended for the Meritorious Service Medal 2 days after Richthofen's death.[7] Evans returned to Australia on 3 December 1918. According to the documentary he was a drifter and died childless in 1925.[1]

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