Family of Battle of Britain Spitfire Pilot honoured at ceremony

A Second World War hero who went to school in Woodhall Spa has been honoured with a plaque.

Charles Overton as a St Hugh's pupil.
Charles Overton as a St Hugh's pupil.

The family of Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot and pupil of St Hugh’s School, Charles Nevil Overton DFC, attended a ceremony on Friday (May 20) to commemorate his valour, courage and devotion to duty while flying.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Franis Dymoke, unveiled a plaque at St Hugh’s School in honour of the war hero.

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As part of the ceremony, St Hugh’s current Head Boy and Head Girl, , read an extract from the evocative Battle of Britain poem, White Chalk Marks in the Summer Sky, with the school’s choir and orchestra performing hymns and ensembles.

A Battle of Britain Plaque dedication / Presentation took place for Wing Commander Charles Nevill Overton 609 Squadron RAuxAF, unveiled at the school with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Francis Dymoke and members of the Overton family.

Charles’ son, Richard Overton; the Battle of Britain Historical Society; Commanding Officer 609 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force; St Hugh’s headmaster, Jeremy Wyld; and Padre (Sqn Ldr) John Mbayo, of the RAF Coningsby, all contributed to the service.

A flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight rounded off proceedings.

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.

The Spitfire flypast at Charles Overton's plaque unveiling. Crown copyright MOD 2022 - Corporal Sally Raimondo

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 January 17 1938.

In November 1939, Overton was posted to 609 (West Riding) squadron flying defensive patrols from Drem in Scotland, the youngest pilot in the squadron at just 20 years old.

On May 18 1940, after the German invasion of the Low Countries and France, 609 was ordered south to Northolt.

On May 30, Overton flew 609’s first patrol of the war to cover the Dunkirk evacuation. That evening, loss and damage having depleted the squadron, Overton and eight others returned to Dunkirk and on their approach, 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 and 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 and shortly afterwards, Overton piloted one of nine Spitfires which escorted Winston Churchill to see the French Prime Minister.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) 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.