Our officer raced to certain death
Lieutenant Everett, of the Norfolk Regiment was the first
British officer to be killed on the Western front. The story
of his horrific end was told by a non commissioned officer,
who accompanied him on his last patrol, to Richard McMillan,
News of the World war correspondent.
In positions beyond the Maginot line. I met a non commissioned
officer who formed one of a patrol party under the young Lieutenant
Everett, of the Norfolk Regiment, described by my informant
as the most courageous soldier he had ever met.
This is the story of the NCO related in a deserted village
occupied by our troops on a hillside overlooking no man's
land. Our patrol was detailed to collect information from
the German lines, and we set off about midday in mist and
over snow covered ground.
Lieutenant Everett, carrying an automatic pistol, led us a walk towards
the crest of a hill dominating, the German lines. As we reached
the top we pause to survey the situation. In the valley below,
in the outpost, we could plainly see the Nazi's moving around,
and apparently unaware of proximity. The Lieutenant went ahead, walking
upright, and as we followed. I called to him, keep down Sir.
He did so and crouched, but I knew. He scorned the danger,
and only took my advice because of the safety of the men.
As we got nearer to the German trenches I called to him again
to lie low, his gun at the ready, and watching on every side
were a sign of the first enemy outpost.
at that moment a burst of machine-gun fire came rat a tat
from the German lines. They had seen us, and in a second their
guns opened with covering fire. Down I yelled, and fell flat.
The rest of the patrol followed suit. We all managed to crawl
into hollows as bullets, whistling into the earth with a dull
phut, sent snow and stones whirling above us. I peered over
the edge of my own little hollow, and to my father saw Lieutenant
Everett begin to run towards the Germans, firing as he went.
His intention was obvious he was bent on reaching the German
lines and silencing the machine guns. We called to him again
knowing he was racing to certain death. Too late! He dropped
to the ground and rolled over, gave a cry which we heard distinctively,
and may still. The men then debated on our next move. An attempt
to reach the stricken officer was made, but the fire was deadly
and incessant. The next in command therefore decided that
his duty was to preserve the lives of the remainder of the
patrol. Instead of risking them in a hopeless attempt to bring
in the bullet riddled body of the leader.
It was a shocking business getting back. We had to scramble
up the side of the hill in full view of the enemy, and were
lucky to find an occasional hollow. With the bullets still
whistling about us, we reached the crest and threw ourselves
over the other side. Two days later the German radio recorded
the death of Lieutenant Everett, still breathing he had been taken
in from the edge of the German trenches, but died soon afterwards.
The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
2194 Days Of War.
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