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Stan Everiss' Story

"They were ordinary people in extraordinary times, all involved in one story to try to protect the nation."

Crash site photo taken by Stan
Crash site photo taken by Stan

Our RHS award-winning garden designer and sculptor, John Everiss, has an incredible connection to the RAF through his father Stan's service during the Second World War. Stan Everiss was a navigator in Bomber Command and flew Stirling bombers on a total of 18 missions during the war. 

In April 1943, Stan survived after being shot down over occupied France. The pilot saved the lives of all on-board but his plane was severely damaged after crashing the aircraft between two trees, detaching both the wings which contained the fuel. Stan, who had suffered a crushed vertebrae during the crash, managed to take a photo of the plane before burying his watch and camera in a nearby ditch. 

He was then discovered by a local farmer who smuggled him to safety for five miles in a wheelbarrow until he reached Chauny in the north of France. Local resistance fighters then hid Stan until he was eventually guided over the Pyrenees before arriving at the British Consulate in Barcelona. 

Stan with full crew in front of his Stirling bomber, 90 Squadron RAF Ridgewell.
Stan with full crew in front of his Stirling bomber,
​​​​90 Squadron RAF Ridgewell.

After being missing for four months, Stan returned home to his shocked family, who presumed him to be dead. He then spent the last few years of the Second World War teaching other pilots, and in 1947 Stan returned to the crash site and managed to retrieve his buried watch and camera.

John Everiss said, "It feels amazing to be involved in such a significant project – the garden has such a powerful story, and we're proud that we're able to help tell it". 

The sculpture displayed in the RAF Benevolent Fund garden was designed by John and created using a 3D model of his son George. George is wearing the watch his grandfather buried near his crash site 79 years earlier. The state-of-the-art sculpture is a moving tribute to all those who have served and continue to serve in the RAF.