Robley Dunglison Evans, born 18 August 1846 in Floyd County, Va., was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1864, ordered to active duty in September 1863.
In the attacks on Fort Fisher, N.C., he exhibited great gallantry under fire on 15 January 1865, when already wounded, he led his landing party through heavy fire to charge the Confederate defenses. In 1891 and 1892, commanding Yorktown on the Pacific Station, he won great acclaim for his firm and skillful handling of a tense situation with Chile. During the Spanish-American War he commanded Iowa in the Battle of Santiago. Rear Admiral Evans commanded the Great White Fleet in its passage in 1907 and 1908 from the Atlantic through the Straits of Magellan to the Pacific, where he was relieved of command because of ill health. He died in Washington, D.C., 3 January 1912. DD-78 and DD-552 were named in his honor.
Ernest Edwin Evans, (no relative to Rear Admiral Evans), born 13 August 1908 in Pawnee, Okla., graduated from the Naval Academy in 1931. During World War II, he commanded Alden (DD-211), and later Johnston (DD-557). Commanding Johnston he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in action against a Japanese submarine on 16 May 1944, and in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, fought his ship gallantly until it was sunk, 25 October 1944, by the Japanese force superior in number, firepower, and armor. Commander Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his material contribution to the decisive victory won in Leyte Gulf and shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded his group for this action in which he gave his life. DE-1023 was named in his honor.
(DD-78; dp. 1,090; l. 315'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 9'; s. 32 k.; cpl. 100; a. 4 4", 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)
The first Evans (DD-78) was launched 30 October 1918 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me.; sponsored by Mrs. D. N. Sewell, granddaughter of Rear Admiral Evans; and commissioned 11 November 1918, Commander F. H. Sadler in command.
After a training and outfitting period which included a maiden voyage to the Azores, Evans departed Newport 10 June 1919 for European waters, where she operated until 22 August, returning then to New York. She sailed once more 11 September, and after patrolling off Central America, reached her assigned home port, San Diego, 14 November.
Through the next 2 years, Evans joined in a training schedule which found her ranging the eastern Pacific from Valparaiso, Chile, to Astoria, Oreg. She was placed in reserve at San Diego 6 October 1921, and decommissioned 29 May 1922. Recommissioned 1 April 1930, she operated out of San Diego for 6 months, then was assigned to duty training members of the naval reserve out of New York City, where she arrived 6 December 1930. She returned to San Diego 26 March 1932, to sail with the Battle Fleet on training cruises and in exercises along the west coast and in Hawaiian and Alaskan waters.
Once more out of commission from 31 March 1937 to 30 September 1939, Evans arrived at Key West 11 December 1939 for neutrality patrol duty in the Antilles, and exercises in various parts of the Caribbean. On 24 September 1940, she sailed from Key West for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was decommissioned 23 October 1940, and transferred to the Royal Navy in the land bases for destroyers exchange.
Commissioned as HMS Mansfield, the destroyer had a truly international career, for between December 1940 and March 1942, she was on loan to the Royal Norwegian Navy. During this time, she raided a fish oil factory in German hands near Hammerfest, Norway. Her landing party destroyed the factory's essential machinery, and attempted to capture the local quisling leader, but he escaped. With her Norwegian crew, she also served on escort duty in the North Atlantic, continuing in this vital assignment after she returned to the Royal Navy. Mansfield was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, and served with the Western Local Escort Force based on Halifax and St. John's. With newer escorts available, in November 1943 the veteran of service in four navies was reduced to care and maintenance service at Halifax, and on 22 June 1944 she was paid off (decommissioned).