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Soldier and a master of the one-armed pint

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

Major John Evans DSO lost his left arm while fighting in Holland during the liberation of Europe

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A former police officer and Plymouth Albion player, who lost an arm serving in the Second World War, has passed away just short of his 100th birthday.

Major John Evans, who had been living in a care home in Saltash, has died at the age of 99.

Major Evans was a policeman in Plymouth at the start of the war but rejoined the forces and was commissioned from the ranks, rising to major.

He lost his left arm while fighting in Holland during the liberation of Europe, but not before winning the DSO.

As a company Major in the Queen's Royal Regiment he was wounded during the liberation of the village of Susteren, holding on to the village despite sustained counter attacks from the enemy.

After being demobbed Major Evans went into business in Newton Abbot – and in 1947 joined the nearest rugby club.

Major Evans had played for Plymouth Albion, as well as Tenby, Pembrokeshire and the Welsh Guards.

He was born in Hengoed, in South Wales, but settled in South Devon after the war.

Within a year of joining the All Whites, who were then playing at Marsh Lane Recreation Ground in the town centre, Major Evans was club secretary and supervising the move to Rackerhayes, where the club has played ever since. He was a committeeman for 23 years, the last 11 of them as the club's chairman.

Major Evans also served on the Devon committee between 1963 and 1970.

He left Devon in 1970 to take up the position of publicity officer in Tenby, where he had been based 35 years earlier as a young Welsh Guardsman.

It was in Tenby that Major Evans had met his future wife Beryl, better known as Bunnie. The couple were married for 70 years and had three sons.

He stayed on in Tenby after retirement, but was a regular visitor to Newton Abbot for old player reunions.

The couple moved to Saltash to be closer to their sons – Martin, Nicholas and Jonathan.

Gordon Hooper, Newton Abbot's publicity officer, knew Mr Evans in the 1960s when he went along to games with his father Ivor.

He said: "I was only 10 or 11 then but remember him as the kindly man who used to give me two shillings a game to act as ball boy.

"I also used to marvel at how he poured pints behind the bar one-armed."

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