Lieutenant Edgar Percy Everard McCleery
4th Squadron Australian Flying Corps
Everard McCleery was born in Moss Vale in 1894, the youngest of James and Euphemia McCleery’s children. McCleery and Sons were well known in the district for their expertise in coach building and had been producing award-winning carriages, sulkies and gigs of the finest quality since 1884. Everard’s mother must have felt great sadness when her son enlisted in August 1916. Her husband and three of her children had already died, leaving her eldest son John and youngest Everard to carry on the family business. It flourished under their management and the company successfully tendered to supply vehicles, tool carts, tent pegs and spare parts to the Defence Department after the outbreak of war.
Everard was the eighth member of the staff of McCleery’s to enlist. As an engineer, he was taken in to the Australian Flying Corps soon after enlistment and left Australia for training in England in January 1917. He qualified as a pilot in October 1917 and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. After further training in aerial fighting he was sent to France in July 1918 as a member of the No 4 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps, serving under Flight Commander Edgar McCloughry, an air ace who had shot down at least nineteen enemy planes. Captain McCloughry had a high opinion of Everard and wrote to Euphemia McCleery after her son was killed during a bombing raid on the Somme aerodrome near Lille on 17th August 1918. Everard was flying only about 100 feet from the ground, attacking a machine gun post when he was hit by the guns. His plane rolled and crashed behind enemy lines. McCloughry wrote of Everard that He was always so bright and cheery and really was doing most awfully well … I had expected great things from him.