Kiwi as

77 years ago, this week, our keen individual who inspires and surprises became a hero for a small Scottish village. Quote.

Carlyle Gray Everiss was born in Gisborne on 3 December 1914. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and began pilot training in January 1941. After gaining his pilot?s wings in Canada, Everiss was sent to the United Kingdom and posted to No. 58 Operational Training Unit at Grangemouth, beside the Firth of Forth in central Scotland. Quote.

The fields of Bannockburn, in the shadows of Stirling Castle, are famous for heroic deeds.

In 1314 one of Scotland’s greatest heroes Robert the Bruce put the mighty English army to the sword in the famous Battle of Bannockburn.

The Bruce’s statue marks the sight of the Scottish victory against insurmountable odds.

Four miles down the road, in the small Scottish village of Cowie, there is another statue honouring a heroic deed on the fields of Bannockburn.

At the Cowie Bowling Club is a memorial to Pilot Officer Carlisle Gray Everiss ? a New Zealand fighter pilot whose sacrifice saved the lives of many villagers during World War II.

Known by family and friends as Gray, Everiss and another pilot were returning from an air combat exercise on October 2, 1941, when the engine of his Spitfire stalled over the mining village.

With his crippled plane heading straight for a tightly packed row of houses, Everiss refused to bail out and made a desperate attempt to gain altitude.

He managed to steer his plane away from the village, but was unable to prevent his aircraft from going down in a tailspin. He smashed into the railway sidings at a nearby coalmine.

Villagers rushed to the scene of the crash and pulled the 26 year old from the burning wreckage. Sadly the young pilot’s injuries proved fatal and he was buried in Grangemouth Cemetery.

Everiss was about 10km from the airforce base at Grangemouth beside the Firth of Forth.

In the 1970s a plaque was put up in memory of the hero, after resident John Craig went to New Zealand to trace Everiss’ family.

Craig tracked down Everiss’ brother-in-law who lent Craig a photograph of the pilot in uniform.

A painting was commissioned based on this picture. The portrait, entitled Carlisle Everiss ? The Face of Courage, was hung in the clubrooms of the Cowie Bowling Club, near the crash site.

Then in 2007, the residents in Cowie raised ?12,000 (NZ$29,000) to erect a bronze bust of the pilot.

Speaking from her Auckland home, nearly 75 years after her cousin’s death, Audrey Edgar (nee Everiss) recalled the family was devastated when they received word “Gray” had been killed.

However, they weren’t surprised to hear of his sacrifice.

“He was the type who liked to help others. I am almost certain his thinking would have been to land away from the village,” she said.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Those are words that summed up Gray.”[…] End of quote.