What's in a name | Neville Joseph Everson

From bridges and parks to mountains and lakes their names live on, but have you ever wanted to know more about the people behind these place names….

The next time you drive along Neville Everson Street in Kempsey you might want to spare a thought for the young man who was killed in battle during WWII.

The street is located in West Kempsey off Sea Street and is one of a few approved to include both the christian and family name.

Neville Everson was posted to the HMAS Australia on his 19th birthday – November 16, 1944.

In just under two months he would die what has been called a hero’s death when he came under attack from a Japanese kamikaze pilot.

Kamikaze were Japanese suicide pilots who attacked Allied warships in the Pacific Ocean during the WWII.

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Neville was born at Karoola Private Hospital, Kempsey, on November 16, 1925, the only son of Magnus and Olive O’Connor Everson of Kinchela.

His early schooling at Smithtown Convent was followed by secondary education at St Philomenia’s High School (now St Paul’s) at Kempsey and then Woodlawn College.

He had a long interest in watercraft, placing well at various Gladstone Regattas.  He was in the South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club’s boat crew and was regarded as an all-round sportsman.

At Woodlawn College he was the senior athletics champion in 1942 with an outstanding record in the field and track events.  He was also talented at boxing, swimming, football and cricket.

While awaiting his call-up, he worked on the family farm and at the Nestle factory at Smithtown.  He also trained with the local Volunteer Defence Corps.

In their story of Neville’s short life, the Macleay Argus reported in the issue of May 9, 1989, that the sea-air battle in which the Kinchela seaman was killed was one of the toughest in the South Pacific war arena.  

At the time, Australia, along with three other Navy ships, was part of the screening force for the huge invasion fleet of 8120 ships which took the American forces back to the Phillipines.

The entire fleet included six battleships, ten cruisers and a large number of destroyers which was hard-pressed by the Japanese in defence of their stronghold.

As the fleet sailed north along the west coast o Luzon Island, a kamikaze pilot slammed into the deck of the Australia killing Neville and his gun crew operating a four-inch gun no the port side.

It was 5.35pm, January 5, 1945.  The dead were buried at sea the next morning as Australia approached the entrance to Lingayen Gulf.  

Over the next two days the Australia was again the target of kamikaze attacks with more damage and casualties.  In all the ship was attacked by the suicide squad five times but was still in action on January 9 when the American troops went ashore.

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