David Evans was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1870, the son of Mr and Mrs Jonathan Evans.
On 11 August 1908 he married Sarah Davies (née Melia), who had been widowed, and they lived with her children and widowed father at 7 Nevada Street, Bootle, Lancashire.
He was a professional seaman in the Mercantile Marine and engaged as a Leading Fireman in the Engineering Branch on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915, at a monthly rate of £7-10s-0d (£7.50) of which £1 was advanced to him upon engagement. He reported for duty at 8am on 17 April for the liner’s last ever voyage out of the River Mersey.
He survived the sinking, three weeks later and back on Liverpool on 12 May 1915 he gave evidence on oath concerning the sinking, to an official of the Board of Trade. In this deposition he stated:
"On Friday 7th May shortly after 2 p.m. while on my 12 to 4 p.m. watch in the centre of No. 3 section stokehole, standing on the port side, I heard a big crash as if the vessel had struck a wreck. The stokehole became full of dust and the men cried out “They have got us at last”.
I immediately followed the men through the pass into the after stokehole of No. 3 section. I stood hesitating a few minutes being alone.
I went into No. 4 section and while turning to shut the door the water began to rush through. I succeeded in closing the door and jumped on the ladder close to and climbed to the fan flats on the port side and reached the firemen’s quarters. There I got a lifebelt and went through the firemen’s mess room and came out on C Deck on the port side. When in the act of putting the lifebelt on, it was snatched from me by a passenger. Although the vessel had a heavy list to starboard, word was passed that she would be all right.
I then climbed up the rails and over the fans onto the boat deck and being pushed by the crowd to the starboard side, reached either No. 15 or No. 16 boat. The boat was down by the front and I pushed my way to give a hand to heave it up. I jumped into the boat and helped several ladies on board. Another boat was being lowered, one fall slipped and everybody was thrown into the water
I hung onto the boat and suddenly the ship and the boat sank. Afterwards I came to the surface and caught hold of a rope fastened to a collapsible boat which was floating right way up with a canvas cover over it. A trimmer, McKenna, who was on top of the canvas with a lady passenger helped me up. We then cut the cover off the boat and put the sides up and then began to pick up about 40 or 50 people who were in the water.
I afterwards helped to bale the water out of the boat using (a) water cask having first knocked the head in and after rowing about for some time, we were finally picked up by the steam trawler Indian Empire. I never saw the submarine at all."
There were three trimmers named McKenna on board the ship; Frank McKenna from Wallasey, Cheshire survived the sinking while Bernard McKenna from Castlebellingham, County Louth and John McKenna from Liverpool were both killed. It is not known which one Fireman Evans met on top of the collapsible boat.
Some time after his return to Liverpool, Fireman Evans was paid the balance of wages owing to him from the liner’s final voyage, which was £6-0s-11d (£6.4½), In common with all the
Lusitania’s crew members he was paid up to 8 May, 24 hours after the liner went down.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, PRO ADM 137/1058, PRO BT 100/345.