Arthur Reginald Evans

Arthur Reginald Evans, DSC (14 May 1905 31 January 1989) was an Australian coastwatcher in the Pacific Ocean theatre in World War II. He is chiefly remembered for having played a significant part in the rescue of future US President John F. Kennedy and his surviving crew after their Motor Torpedo Boat, PT-109, was sunk by enemy action in August 1943.


Evans was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 14 May 1905. In adult life he worked in the Solomon Islands, and at the outbreak of World War II in 1939 was working as a shipping clerk at Paddington, a suburb of Sydney.

On 25 July 1940 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He was allotted service number NX57823 and served with the 2/9th Army Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, becoming a Warrant Officer Class 2.[1] However, his knowledge of the Solomon Islands meant he was of value elsewhere, and in 1942 he was recruited to serve in the Coast Watch Organisation. He was discharged from the AIF on 9 October 1942,[1] and two days later commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR).[2][3]

In his new role he secretly manned an observation post atop Mount Veve volcano on Kolombangara, a small circular volcanic island, while over 10,000 Japanese soldiers were camped at Vila, on the island's southeastern tip. On 2 August 1943 he spotted the explosion of John F. Kennedy's boat PT-109, although he did not realise at the time it was an Allied loss. However, he later received and decoded the message that the PT-109 was missing, and dispatched Solomon Islander scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana in dugout canoes to find the crew.

He met with John F. Kennedy after he became President of the United States, visiting the White House on 1 May 1961.[4] Evans died aged 84 on 31 January 1989.[4]

Evans would be mentioned by name in Jimmy Dean's "PT-109" song, the Warner Brothers PT-109 movie, in which he was portrayed by Michael Pate, and a 2002 National Geographic special, The Search for Kennedy's PT 109. In the 1963 movie, it was remarked what kind of a job it would be: "it's a lonely job, if he's found, that's how he's going to die".


  3. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 2 – Navy, Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (Volume II) 1st edition, 1968, p. 279
  4. Sydney Morning Herald, Death notice, 2 February 1989
  • White House Photographs, 1 May 1961, 11:57 a.m - 12:20 p.m.

"Meeting with A.R. "Reg" Evans, the Australian coast watcher who helped rescue the crew of PT 109 in 1943"

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