Charles Nevil Overton DFC
On Friday 20th May, we held a Dedication Service in honour of former pupil and Battle of Britain Spitfire Pilot, Charles Nevil Overton DFC, 609 Squadron.
It was wonderful to welcome Charles’ family and special guests to join us to commemorate his life.
As part of the ceremony, Harry and Ruby, our Head Boy and Head Girl read White Chalk Marks in the Summer Sky, an extract from the evocative Battle of Britain poem, with Freddie, our Deputy Head Boy delivering a reading. Charles’ son, Richard Overton; the Battle of Britain Historical Society; Commanding Officer 609 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force; our Headmaster, Jeremy Wyld; and Padre (Sqn Ldr) John Mbayo, of the nearby RAF Coningsby, all contributed to the service.
Our School Choir and Orchestra made us all extremely proud with their incredibly moving performances, which included a War Time Medley.
The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Francis Dymoke, unveiled the plaque, and a flypast by a Battle of Britain Spitfire, enjoyed by the whole school, certainly was the perfect finale to such a special event.
Charles Nevil Overton was born in Navenby, Lincolnshire in 1919 and was one of the first entry of boys to attend St Hugh’s School from where he went on to Denstone College, Staffordshire.
Overton, known as ‘Teeny’ because of his fondness for Ovaltine, joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial flying course at White Waltham on 17th January 1938. 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 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 with the 109, when he got the 109 in his sights and opened fire at 70 yards. The 109 plunged into the sea.
Shortly afterwards Overton piloted one of nine Spitfires which escorted Winston Churchill to see the French Prime Minister.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 6th October 1942) and was twice Mentioned in Despatches.
Concluding his war as a Wing Commander in Malta, Overton returned to Lincolnshire to farm at Heath Farm, Wellingore – where in 1957 he bought the wartime airfield RAF Wellingore and returned it to a working farm. He died in October 1998.
Thank you to everyone for making this such a truly special event and a part of St Hugh’s history.
Dedication Service photos: Crown copyright MOD 2022 - Corporal Sally Raimondo