Robert W. H. Everett

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Robert William Hanmer Everett DSO (29 May 1901 – 26 January 1942) was a British jockey and a Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve pilot during the Second World War. In 1929, he won the Grand National on Gregalach. In 1941, as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, he achieved the first "kill" by a rocket-launched fighter, shooting down a long-range Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor over the Atlantic.[1] For this hazardous success, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Knowledge of Everett's life is fragmentary, with just a few notable events.[2]

Early life[edit]

Robert Everett was born to on 29 May 1901 in Tenterfield, New South Wales, Australia. His parents were Lt. Colonel William Frank Everett and Charlotte Everett of Chelsea.[2]

In 1929, he rode "Gregalach" in the Grand National at Aintree, winning by six lengths from "Easter Hero". This race had the largest Grand National field ever and Everett was praised for his horsemanship over heavy ground. Later, in 1934, he won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, this time on "Poolgowran".[2]

At the same time, Everett had become an amateur pilot and jointly owned, with his father, a De Havilland Puss Moth, a relatively high-performance aircraft of its day. In 1934, with another Australian, Jimmy Melrose, he entered the MacRobertson Air Race (or the Melbourne Centenary Air Race) to Melbourne from Mildenhall, in England.[3] This was successfully completed in 120 flying hours, despite landing at Darwin with empty fuel tanks.[2]

Service career[edit]

Everett joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Fleet Air Arm in October 1940 and served with 760 Naval Air Squadron at HMS Heron, Yeovilton.[2] Later he volunteered for 804 Naval Air Squadron, which for a time supplied pilots for fighter catapult ships and CAM ships. While he was on HMS Maplin, a Condor was sighted on 1 August 1941 and Everett's Hawker Hurricane was launched. After a hard fight, the Condor was shot down with Everett's last shots ("By this time I had reached the starboard bow and three machine guns opened up as well as the forward cannon. I did a quick turn to port and opened up just abaft the beam I fired five second burst at this range and my guns were empty").[4] He managed to ditch near to HMS Wanderer which was escorting the nearby convoy, SL.81.[2] Everett was awarded the DSO for this action.

Death[edit]

Robert Everett died on active service on 26 January 1942, when his Hurricane crashed on the beach at Llanddona, Anglesey, Wales. He is buried in St Dona’s Church in Llanddona.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HMS Maplin". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 Feb 2001. Retrieved 28 Oct 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Brookes, Geoff. "Robert Everett DSO". Stories in Welsh Stone. Retrieved 28 Oct 2009. 
  3. ^ "England-Australia Race". Flight, p.557. 7 June 1934. Retrieved 29 Oct 2009. 
  4. ^ Payne, Alan (December 1975). "The Catapult Fighters". Naval Historical Society of Australia. Retrieved 28 Oct 2009. 

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