It is with a very real regret that I advise of the death of RMBX2239
former B/Cpl. Michael A. Evans (Taff).
He died peacefully in his sleep on the 14th April, but only after
a lifetime of suffering from the crippling disease of Poliomyelitis
he had contracted in 1958.
'Taff' (which, with the surname of Evans he was unable to escape being
known) joined the band service in 1946, (then on the Isle of Man.)
Taff's instruments were cornet and violin and on becoming a Musician
in 1949 his first draft was to the Mediterranean and submarine depot
ship 'Forth', (where I first met and became friends with him). When
that band was withdrawn he transferred briefly to the cruiser 'Gambia'
and then the entire band went to the light-fleet carrier 'Ocean' which
was earmarked for U N duties in the Korean War. During that time the
band - with the RMB's never-ending versatility - became aircraft armourers,
only reverting to instrumentalists when entering and leaving harbour.
When 'Ocean' returned to the UK he was drafted to HMS Excellent, on
Whale Island, until there also, the band was withdrawn.
At this point in his career 1956, the Band Service was in a state
of flux and still shrinking drastically so that when the opportunity
of his becoming an Air Steward with the then BOAC arose he purchased
his discharge and for the next two years very much enjoyed seeing
more of the world, from a different elevated perspective, via a fleet
of Britannia (turbo-prop) aircraft on South African, Australian and
This life came to a sudden end in December 1958 when on a stopover
in Singapore he contracted polio whilst swimming. Initially feeling
only flu-like symptoms he soldiered on but by the time the flight
reached Beirut he collapsed with almost total paralysis and was hospitalised
there for many months until he was able to be flown home. During this
period of strife and turmoil his first marriage collapsed and for
many years he was a patient in various homes until he had the extreme
good fortune to meet Pauline, an Irish nurse specially trained to
care for his type of disability. Eventually she became his new wife
and they lived for many years in a disability purpose-built apartment
in what were built as the 'Cheshire Homes' in London. There, despite
many health problems, not least of them difficulty in breathing they
were extremely happy together. Then in a totally unexpected and additional
crushingly tragic blow, Pauline, still only 59 years old, died suddenly
of a brain haemorrhage, leaving Taff alone and bereft. Being unable
to cope for himself he could no longer remain in his familiar surroundings
so his children, Janice and John, arranged for him to be moved to
a suitable home near them in Lincoln and without doubt it was their
care and consideration that gave Taff a further two years of life.
However, the earlier loss of Pauline continued to cause him much anguish.
Self-evidently, Michael Evans was a man of great fortitude and determination
and the warmest of friends. Despite his tremendous handicap, these
characteristics enabled him over the years to live a reasonably happy
Many of his RMB contemporaries and old shipmates kept in regular touch.
Those in Britain and nearby by personal visits and others from overseas,
by telephone and correspondence - the latter despite his great physical
difficulties using his faithful old electric typewriter. I tried hard
to encourage him to try a computer and thus the enormous facilities
of e-mail, feeling that it would widen his necessarily restricted
horizons, but failed to persuade him.
I know that his many friends and old shipmates will join me in sending
his family our sympathy and condolences. He will be very much missed.
Ex RMB 2175