Flying Officer Charles N Overton DFC – 609 Squadron
Charles Nevil Overton was born on 25th September 1919, the youngest of six children at Navenby, Lincolnshire where his father farmed the Blankney Estate. Nevil was one of the first entry of boys to attend St Hugh’s School, Woodhall Spa, from where he went on to Denstone College, Staffordshlre. Before joining the RAF he trained briefly in land agency with Woodruffe Walters.
In 1938 as the pace of rearmament accelerated, Overton – known as ‘Teeny’ because of his fondness for Ovaltine (advertised with the ditty "We are the Ovalteenies") – had been granted a short service commission. He did his elementary training at 13 E&RFTS White Waltham, going on to 8 FTS Montrose on 9th April. His first posting was to the School of Naval Co-
In late September 1939 he joined 17 Squadron, operating Hurricanes from Debden, Essex. In November 1939 Overton was posted to 609 (West Riding) squadron flying defensive patrols from Drem in Scotland. Barely 20, Overton was the youngest pilot in the squadron. On 18th May 1940, after the German invasion of the Low Countries and France, 609 was ordered south to Northolt. On 30th May Overton and his fellow pilots refuelled at Biggin Hill and at lunchtime flew 609's first patrol of the war to cover the Dunkirk evacuation. In the evening, loss and damage having depleted the squadron, Overton and eight others returned to Dunkirk. On 609's approach run, Overton encountered 15 He111 bombers and 20 Me109 fighters. There followed a superb display of air fighting; Overton and Flying Officer Hank Russell, an American volunteer, making simultaneous beam attacks, destroying a Heinkel. Overton then noticed that he had a Me109 on his tail. After a six minute dogfight he was in a stall turn whe109, following it up with a kill. After a spell with No 239 Wing's four squadrons of Kittyhawks, Overton was appointed Wing Commander Operations at Desert Air Force Headquarters.
Concluding his war in Malta as fighter training officer Overton returned to Lincolnshire to farm at Heath Farm, Wellingore -
Shortly afterwards Overton piloted one of nine Spitfires which escorted Winston Churchill to see the French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud. Having got lost on the way home Overton refuelled in Jersey and loaded his aircraft up with brandy. In mid-
In April 1941, Overton, now a flight commander, had survived long enough to become the doyen of the squadron. He was posted as an instructor to No 59 Operational Training Unit at Crosby-
In December 1941, keen to return to operations , Overton was posted as a flight commander to No 145, a Spitfire squadron at Catterick. In New Year 1942, 145 was the first Spitfire squadron to be sent to the Middle East where in April Overton took command, at Helwan in Egypt.
The next month, operating from Western Desert landing grounds, Overton began to lead the squadron in sustained fighter and bomber support operations. On 10th June 1942 Overton damaged a Me09 Squadron Association and extended warm hospitality to members who visited him at Heath Farm.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 6th October 1942) and was twice Mentioned in Despatches.