Rook Michael 504 *

Micky Rook

*The Head and shoulders photograph here is a suitable and characteristic pose of a British Fighter Pilot at this period, iconic flying jacket and squadron cap, dark rings of fatigue round the eyes, but charismatic and warrior-like.

Michael Rook was born, the second son of four surviving brothers, (One – Peter died at birth), to Lieut-Colonel W.R. (Billy) Rook of the Robin Hoods OBE.TD., JP, and his wife Dorothy (nee) Brewill, of Edwalton, Nottingham, on 12th October 1915.

He was educated at Oakham School, and, somewhat unusually, later too at Uppingham School, following in the footsteps of his elder brother Alan. He joined the wine and grocery family business – Skinner and Rook Ltd., Clumber Street, Nottingham – as wine department manager in about 1934.

The great enthusiasms of his life at this time were motor racing and flying. Michael married Miss Joan Leslie Corah of Queniborough, Leicestershire, on November 7th 1936. He was 21 years old she 20. (02/05/1916)

In 1938 Micky Rook had joined 504 (County of Nottingham) Auxiliary Air Force Squadron stationed at Hucknall. On the outbreak of war the squadron went to Lille in France with their Hurricanes and after that abortive campaign returned to protect the northern cities and eastern approaches with 12 Group at Wick in Scotland. It came south to participate in the Battle of Britain during 1939 through to July 1941 where he claiming two destroyed and two shared victories.

On August 27th 1941 he was posted to No 81 (F) Squadron and sent to Northern Russia, as Churchill’s answer to Stalin’s plea to open a second front.

On September 9th 1941 B Flight started testing, uncrating, and rebuilding Hurricane 11s at Chaika in Northern Russia. This little-recorded and seldom acknowledged tale of the “RAF in Russia” is told in detail by Flight-Lieutenant Hubert Griffith (Hammond Hammond & Company and now out of print).

Squadron Leader Tony (A.H.) Rook DFC., AFC., Order of Lenin – Micky’s cousin – commanded B flight. The cousins were enormously close before the war and throughout hostilities till Micky’s death which was tragically signed off in Michael’s log-book by his cousin Tony, then commanding 504 in 1948.

Two particular tales of Michael’s exploits in Russia are recorded in “The RAF in Russia”

September 16th 1942:

Dozens of fresh eggs have appeared in the Mess served fried three to a plate. Michael Rook eats three, then is pressed by the Russian waitress to take another plate, and complies. Then is pressed again to take another three, but declines: “I can eat a Flight but not a Squadron…..”

October 6th 1942:

Michael Rook in the course of the interception-manoeuvres had the experience of getting detached from his own squadron (No 81) and formatting idly round the sky with six Me 109s, whom he took absent-mindedly to be Hurricanes of 134 Squadron. He apparently flew with them happily for quite some time – even waggling his wings as a sign of greeting and friendship – until he suddenly woke to his mistake, gave the nearest Me, (who was by now coming straight at him) a squirt with his twelve guns, and blew it completely to pieces. As he said afterwards, “The Germans must have thought me either bloody brave or bloody foolish.”…. As a matter of fact, Rook’s job was not quite so simple as this, according to later investigation. He had the remaining five Me’s on his tail for many minutes after he had got his squirt in, and they chased him down to mast-level over a destroyer lying in Murmansk Sound before he finally got away, after one of the stiffest combats in his life. As he remarked later, “When I finally got back to the aerodrome and landed I sat actually sweating in the cock-pit for some time before I could climb out”. It is an accepted fact that even the most brilliant of fighter-pilot victories are a combination of luck as well as brilliance….

Four members of the Wing were decorated by the Soviet Government with one of the two highest Soviet awards, the Order of Lenin – an order never before given to any foreigner : – Wing Commander Isherwood A.F.C, Squadron-Leaders A H Rook (Tony) (81) and Miller (137) both for their brilliant services and as a collective recognition of the work of their whole squadrons, and a non-commissioned officer, Flight Sergeant Haw, who had himself shot down three Germans “confirm” and was the highest individual pilot, in the time available.

The Wing returned home in March 1942 leaving their aircraft to the tender mercies of the Soviet Aces. The Wing extracts are taken from “Triumph over Tunisia” by Wing Commander T.H.Wisdom (George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1944):

In November 1942 Micky was now in North Africa in support of American and British soldiers scrambling ashore in Algeria and Morocco. On the 8th the Hurricanes take off. Leading them is Micky Rook of the Auxiliary Air Force who has fought in France, in the Battle of Britain and Russia. He is a tall lanky youth with a Bertie Wooster laugh; a successful wine-merchant in peace-time and a more than successful fighter pilot in time of war.

They fly over the sea. It is a great gamble. For they are going to land on an aerodrome which as far as we know is not yet in our hands, and if it isn’t they haven’t the fuel to come back again…….

That speedy capture of Maison Blanche aerodrome controlled the success of the operation…..

Two crack squadrons had arrived and were frantically preparing for a German air assault. Micky Rook and his 43 Squadron re-fuelled the Hurricanes; Tony Bartlet and Treble One Squadron, a Spitfire outfit that had fought with glory in France and the Battle of Britain and had been overhead through Dieppe Day, were removing the long-range tanks from their Spitfires………..

For this action – the taking of Maison Blanche – Squadron-Leader Micky Rook won his DFC.

Another little insight is given in a publishers note to “Triumph over Tunisia”:-

Micky is the tallest pilot in the RAF, [6’ 61/2” ] and has, as well, the biggest feet. He takes size 141/2 shoes. He could manage, just, to cram his enormous length into a Hurricane but when the squadron, later on, was re-equipped with Spitfires, everyone thought Micky had had it. He managed, however, to get into the cock-pit but there was no room for his feet on the rudder bar, so his flying boots were permanently fixed inside the aircraft and Micky, off on a show, would pad across the aerodrome in his stockinged feet and slide them into his boots as he squeezed into his seat.

Wing-Cdr. Micky Rook DFC in Tunisia 1943. Tallest Pilot in the RAF dawfs his Spitfire

** The photograph here shows just how tall and large a man Micky was, lounging head and shoulders above the wing of his Spitfire VC, JK 101 somewhere in North Africa in 1943.

After the end of hostilities in 1945, Wing Commander Micky Rook became Flight-Lieutenant Rook in order to remain on active service. January 1947 saw him flying Oxford 11s, but by April and May that year his logbook indicates the conversion of 504 at Hucknall to Mosquito 111s.

Wing-Cdr (now post war F-Lt) Micky Rook DFC with F/O Richard Boyle shortly before their death in a Mosquito training accident March 13th 1948

***The photograph here was taken with his navigator Flying-Officer Richard Boyle some weeks before their fatal crash on March 13th 1948 in UP345 – which had developed engine trouble shortly after taking off that afternoon.

Micky Rook was 33 years of age. He left a daughter aged 6 – Suzy Patricia (historians may note the name of the squadron mascot from the 504 pre-war Hendon days in typical Micky style!), – a son, Michael John aged 3

Rook Anthony 607 *

Squadron Leader Anthony H Rook – 504 Squadron

Anthony Hartwell Rook was born in Nottingham in 1918 and joined 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in early 1937. He was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939 and was serving with 504 in France from 10th May to 22nd May 1940 when it reinforced the Allied Expeditionary Air Force

On 27th September Rook claimed a Me110 destroyed and shared another. He took command of 504 on 14th March 1941. In late July Rook took ‘A’ Flight to Leconfield, where it was expanded to squadron strength and became 81 Squadron, with himself as CO.

The squadron embarked in HMS Argus on 12th August, bound for Russia. On 1st September it flew its Hurricanes off to Vaenga airfield near Murmansk.

Operating with 134 Squadron, together forming 151 Wing, the squadron flew patrols and escorted Russian bombers until 20th November when its pilots began converting Russian pilots on to Hurricanes. Leaving all its aircraft and equipment behind, the squadron left Russia on 29th November in HMS Kenya and landed at Rosyth on 7th December 1941.

The squadron then went to Turnhouse to re-equip. Rook was posted away in January 1942. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 3rd March 1942) and the Order of Lenin (gazetted 31st March 1942), one of four given by the Russians.

For services at 57 OTU, Rook was awarded the AFC (gazetted 8th June 1944). He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Wing Commander.

When 504 was reformed as a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron in May 1946 Rook was given command and led it until 1948. He died in 1976.

Rennie Cameron *

Flight Lieutenant Ian Cameron Rennie BSc AIMechE MRIN FRSA – 7644 Squadron

Flight Lieutenant Rennie was a talented and committed Reserve officer with considerable operational and engagement support experience. Having previously served in the Royal Engineers (TA) in the 1980s and 90s, he joined 7644 Sqn in 2011. He came from a strategic policy background as a senior advisor for BP with experience in crisis communications. He applied these impressive PR skills as a Media Operations officer on a number of deployments to Afghanistan and Eastern Europe.

Cameron’s initial operational experience was on Op HERRICK in 2012 and 2014 where he proved himself a dynamic and dependable Media Ops officer. His work was especially appreciated by the commander of the RAF’s 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, based at Kandahar Airfield, who counted ‘Cameron’ among his most trusted officers. Flt Lt Rennie finished his tour with a (83 EAG) Commander’s Commendation. He applied the experiences he had gained in Afghanistan to other RAF operations, including two highly successful Baltic Air Policing tours in Estonia on Op AZOTIZE in 2015 and 2016. The first saw him shaping defence engagement while working closely with the British Defence Attaché, diplomatic staff and Nato Allied Air Command. On his second tour he provided specialist media support to 140 EAW. He subsequently built upon this work with a deployment to Romania on Op BILOXI in 2017. This operational work earned him the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire’s Best Reservist Award in 2016.

Cameron lent his academic and industry knowledge to tri-service project teams considering future global threats and sat on a number of consultative groups for the development of RAF projects such as RAF100; punching far above his rank. He felt ‘at home’ in the RAF and was comfortable engaging with ranks at all levels. He was very proud that his father and grandfather had also served in the air force, particularly as his grandfather had been in it on 1 April 1918.

He was a highly regarded officer with a cheerful disposition, engaging personality and creative mind who consistently delivered on operations and UK-based tasks. He nurtured the junior airmen and women on his flight, was a source of strength to his fellow junior officers with his compassion and advice and gave loyal support to 7644 Squadron. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Air Commodore Bradshaw, ACOS Media and Communications, said: “Flt Lt Cameron Rennie was a committed, highly capable, talented and experienced member of 7644 Sqn whose contribution both at home and on overseas operations was enormous”.

Cameron will also be remembered by those who had the privilege to work with him as a kind, generous individual who always made time to offer advice or support and to mentor his less experienced colleagues. In that sense, he leaves a lasting legacy across the whole RAF media community. Cameron will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. Cameron’s wife, Agneta, and the rest of his family added: “Cameron was a larger than life character who really enjoyed his life and his time in the RAF. We are devastated he left us so early”.

Persse-Joynt Dudley 609 *

Flight Lieutenant Dudley Persse-Joynt 90322

Dudley Persse-Joynt, from Satndymount, Ireland, was born on 8 January 1910 and was educated at Belvedere College from 1924. He was a skilled rugby player who continued his playing career after leaving education, playing with Monkstown Senior and later captaining Shannon Buccaneers. Dudley was also an accomplished cricketer. He became a Superintendent of Shell Mex & BP Company Ltd., working on the western side of Ireland, but was later transferred to Yorkshire, where he remained. In 1936, he joined the Auxiliary Air Force, was commissioned and completed his flying training with 609 (West Riding) Squadron at RAF Yeadon, north of Leeds.

On 31 May 1940, 609 was one of several squadrons covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. The air-fighting was furious and the casualties high as the Royal Air Force battled to keep the Luftwaffe away from the beaches and coastline. Dudley did not return – he was one of five pilots lost by 609 during Operation Dynamo.

His obituary from the 1941 Belvederian closes with the words:

‘On patrol duty over Dunkirk on the last day of May last year he was seen to dive in his Spitfire to attack a German bomber. He has not returned, nor has any news been received of him since then, so he must be presumed killed in action. To his sorrowing family we extend our deepest sympathy’.

Dudley Persse Joynt was 30 at the time of his disappearance. He has no grave, but is commemorated at Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey..

Pearson Neil *

Flying Officer Neil R Pearson RAuxAF

Operations Officer No 2 (City of Edinburgh) Maritime Headquarters Unit and 603 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Neil Pearson was born in Glasgow in 1961 and was dux of his school. He had a very keen interest in vehicles and initially set up a tool business in Edinburgh. Latterly he managed and ran a garage in Leith.

He was particularly keen on classic cars and became chairman of the Scottish Vintage Vehicle Federation. He joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 1991 as a part time Auxiliary and trained initially as an air traffic control clerk. Neil’s potential was quickly recognised and he was commissioned in 1996 becoming a Maritime Patrol Aircraft Controller working in the underground headquarters in Pitreavie Castle and on occasions also detached to RAF Macrihanish and to the Royal Naval Base at Faslane. He was a member of the Unit when it won the Robins Efficiency Trophy in 1996.

Neil will be remembered as a most keen and capable young officer always ready to go the extra mile. He was one of a small group of officers on the Maritime Headquarters Unit who wore the full Highland Mess Kit in the Grey Douglas tartan. This dress uniform was authorised by King Edward 8th in 1936 to be worn by Auxiliary Officers from Scottish Squadrons and to this day this unique Mess Dress is rarely seen. The attached photograph shows Neil alongside the Rt Hon Lord Monro of Langham, Honorary Inspector General of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, the Rt Hon Lord Selkirk of Douglas, Honorary Air Commodore of No 2 Maritime Headquarters and Wing Commander Bob Kemp, Commanding Officer of No 2 Maritime Headquarters Unit.

Very sadly Neil developed a brain tumour in 1999 and although he fought this dreadful illness with great vigour and resilience he died in 2001. He would have gone much further in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and was a huge loss to the Squadron. Neil is survived by Muriel, his beloved wife and young son Andrew who is now an accomplished musician.

Overton Jack 613 *

Jack Overton

A Short Life Story

Jack Forster Overton was born in Huddersfield, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1918. His secondary education was at Worksop College, Nottinghamshire where he was in the Officer Training Corps. On leaving school he joined the Territorial Army and in January 1939 he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers (later Royal Artillery), 43rd (5th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, West Riding Area – 371 Searchlight Battery, Huddersfield. In August 1941 the Battalion moved to the Humber Zone in the East Riding of Yorkshire where the city of Hull, particularly, was being heavily targeted by the German Luftwaffe.

Jack’s dream was to join the Royal Air Force. This he successfully realised on 29 November 1941 when he became a Pilot Officer (trainee) with No. 7 Elementary Flying Training School, RAF Desford, Leicestershire, learning to fly de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moths. He was confirmed as a Pilot Officer in March 1942 and further training followed at: No 1 Pupil Pilots Pool, RAF Peterborough, Northamptonshire; 37 Course RAF, College Cranwell, Lincolnshire; 17 Advanced Flying Unit, RAF Watton, Norfolk and 41 Operational Training Unit, RAF Old Sarum, Wiltshire. On 1 October 1942 he was promoted to Flying Officer and on the same day he made his first solo flight in a North American Mustang I.

On 18 November 1942 he joined 613 (City of Manchester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, ‘B’ Flight, based at RAF Ouston, Northumberland. At that time, the Squadron was part of Bomber Command (Army Co-operation Command; it was to become part of 2nd Tactical Air Force, affiliated to Fighter Command in June 1943). The Squadron was equipped with Mustangs, which had recently replaced Westland Lysanders II & III and Curtiss Tomahawks IIA.

Jack flew his first operation on 5 February 1943, a ‘popular’ (photo reconnaissance) from Berck to Le Crotoy along the northern coast of France. Over the following months from a variety of RAF Stations in England, Jack carried out many operations with the Squadron: fighter sweeps, shipping reconnaissance and anti-shipping strikes off the French & Dutch coasts from various RAF Stations in England, as well as anti-submarine patrols and bomber escorts off the north-west French coast and Bay of Biscay, when the Squadron was based in Cornwall.

Jack wrote the following on the back of the photo:

Yours truly + Quien Sabe prior to convoy ‘pranging’ on April 29, 1943.

‘What a line’.

Jack named his first Mustang ‘Quien Sabe’ (which he took as ‘You never can tell’; in Spanish, it translates as ‘Who knows?’). That Mustang was borrowed by another pilot, who crashed it in England and died on February 6, 1943; the pilot, F/O Alan M. Peake, was with 63 Squadron at RAF Odiham, Hampshire.

The 613 Squadron Mustang in the photo would be ‘Quien Sabe II’, AM175; the ‘pranging’ on April 29 was an operation accompanying Beaufighters attacking a German convoy off the coast of Holland near Texel. Jack renamed that Mustang ‘Peggy’ (his future wife) in June 1943. Mustang AM175 would be shot down on 18 July 1943 by German fighters off the coast of Den Helder/Egmond, Holland. The pilot, F/O Henry G. Taverner (RCAF) of 613 Squadron, was killed.

ABOVE: Jack with another Mustang (Peggy II).

On 23 August 1943 this aircraft was bombed and slightly damaged by the Luftwaffe when it was on the ground at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk after it had been flown there for repairs by another pilot of 613 Squadron.

In October 1943, while based at RAF Lasham, Hampshire, 613 Squadron started converting to the fighter-bomber version of the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, FB Mk VI. By that time, Jack had completed 33 operations in Mustangs. In January 1944, he was officially promoted to Flight Lieutenant, back-dated to November 1943.

Jack later named 2 Mosquitos ‘Peggy’: Peggy III was shot down on 14 January 1944 while over France on operations against V-1 rocket sites; both crew, F/Lt Joseph G. Oliver (pilot) and Sgt. Harry Williams (navigator) managed to survive the crash and, with the help of French civilians, were sheltered and then managed to get back to England; F/Lt Oliver rejoined 613 Squadron but was killed in a flying accident near RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk on 28 July 1944. Peggy IV crashed on 2 February 1944 near RAF Hatfield, Hertfordshire; the pilot, F/Lt Raymond E. Knight, was flying solo and survived.

Jack married Margaret ‘Peggy’ Weldrick from Dewsbury, Yorkshire on 1st June 1944 but the honeymoon in Devon had to be cut short when he was recalled for D-Day. His younger brother, Guy, an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, was due to be best man at the wedding but Navy leave had been cancelled in preparation for Operation Neptune.

During 1944 the Squadron flew operations over occupied France: night intruders and rangers, bombing railways, transport routes and V-1 rocket sites. By July 1944 Jack had completed a further 43 operations in Mosquitos, making a total of 76 operations. During this time, Jack won the French Croix de Guerre medal, as did his navigator, Adjudant Jacques Murray of the Free French Air Force. On 20 February 1944 their Mosquito was one of 6 from the Squadron that took off from RAF Lasham, Hampshire to attack a V-1 rocket base target in Northern France. As Jack’s aircraft was flying at low level over the French coast, the starboard engine was badly shot up by German flak. The port engine and hydraulic system were also hit but Jack managed to nurse the aircraft back to England, crash-landing at RAF Ford in Sussex, just a couple of miles inland from the English Channel on the south coast. Both Jack and Adj. Murray were unhurt. Jack was the only Englishman in 613 Squadron to be awarded the Croix de Guerre.

In July 1944 Jack transferred to 417 R&SU as the officer in charge of flying. This Unit, closely affiliated to 613 Squadron and the other Squadrons in 138 Wing, was tasked with the Repair & Salvage of damaged aircraft and ferrying them back to the Squadrons. However, Jack was still called on by 613 Squadron for another couple of operations, one of which was during Operation Market Garden over Arnhem, Holland on 17 September 1944.

In November 1944 the Squadrons of 138 Wing moved to Northern France: Cambrai-Epinoy airfield, which had been liberated from the Germans the previous September. Jack flew to the airfield on 30 November. That same day, 3 years and 1 day after joining the RAF, he was killed in a road accident. He was a passenger in a car driving on a cobbled road to 138 Wing near Cambrai. The car skidded, overturned and Jack was killed instantly.

All the aircraft christened ‘Peggy’ by Jack were either shot down, shot up or crashed by other pilots. It seems that in the air Jack was very fortunate. It was ironic that, after successfully completing 78 operations, he met his end in a car crash on the road.

The recommendation for Jack’s Croix de Guerre had been accepted and notified by the Air Ministry on 19 October 1944 but the medal was awarded posthumously.

TRANSLATION

EMBASSY OF FRANCE 10 Duke Street

LONDON London, W.1.

AIR ATTACHÉ Welbeck 4471

– EXTRACT –

___________________

ORDER N° 65

___________________

Air Force General BOUSCAT, General Chief of Staff of the Air Force, mentions in despatches of the Air Brigade:

F/Lt. OVERTON JACK – 613 Squadron –

“ This Officer showed great courage and remarkable skill as a pilot. On 20 February, during the course of an effective attack on objectives in France, his aircraft was seriously damaged by Anti-Aircraft fire. Skilfully guided by his French navigator F/Lt. OVERTON succeeded in bringing his machine back to its base in England thus avoiding through his skill and his decisiveness, a forced landing in enemy occupied territory ”.

This citation awards the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star.

PARIS, 5 June 1946

Air Force General BOUSCAT

General Chief of Staff of the Air Force

Signed: BOUSCAT

London

Certified to conform to the extract

Colonel de RANCOURT

Air Attaché with the French Embassy

in London

Signed.

In addition to the Croix de Guerre, Jack won the Distinguished Flying Cross, announced in the London Gazette on 29 December 1944. It was awarded by the Air Ministry to Jack and his navigator, P/O Alan E.D. Eyles, particularly for their part in a number of daylight raids in February 1944 against well-defended German targets in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France and most notably, on 25 February: when returning from one such raid, they saw an RAF Mitchell bomber ditch in the English Channel and the crew escape into 3 dinghies; Jack and P/O Eyles gave fixes on the position and orbited for 30 minutes to enable Air Sea Rescue to assist and recover. In Jack’s case, the DFC was awarded posthumously.

Flight Lieutenant Jack F Overton, DFC, Croix de Guerre, died aged 26. He is buried in Cambrai Communal Cemetery, Northern France.

Overton Charles 609 *

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-Operation at Ford on 29th October 1938.

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 – where in 1957, as the enterprise developed, he bought a wartime RAF airfield. Over the years he turned from farming Lincoln Red cattle and Suffolk sheep to arable. Overton was a traditionalist who saw no need to work on Sundays and he made his men aware of this. Sunday for him was church followed by a ride round the farm with his children. He revered nature and only shot game when walking his land with a relative or friend. In late years, he enjoyed the sight of pheasants pottering outside his office in the evenings. He remained a loyal and generous supporter of 6n 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, Paul Reynaud. Having got lost on the way home Overton refuelled in Jersey and loaded his aircraft up with brandy. In mid-summer 1940, 609 operated from Middle Wallop and Warmwell in the south west. On 12th August, led by Squadron Leader George Darley, 609 intercepted 80 Me110 twin-engine fighters circling east of the Isle of Wight. Darley led Overton and his fellow pilots straight through the circle of enemy aircraft, taking beam shots and breaking away downwards. Overton accounted for two of six 110’s shot down. The next day, 609 intercepted 40 Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers over Lyme Bay; of 10 destroyed, Overton was credited with two.

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–Eden for a “rest”.

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.

Monro Hector *

The Right Honourable Lord Monro of Langholm AE, DL.

603 Squadron, Honorary Air Commodore of 2622 (Highland) Squadron
and Honorary Inspector-General Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Hector Monro, a veteran Sunderland and Catalina pilot of the Second World War, joined No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and flew Spitfires until the Squadron was disbanded in the fifties. He was appointed as the Honorary Air Commodore of No 2622 (Highland) Squadron in 1982 and later he became the Honorary Inspector-General of the Force until 2000. Lord Monro of Langholm and Westerkirk was one of Scotland’s longest-ever serving MPs. As a farmer and county councillor, he was elected to the Dumfriesshire constituency in 1964 and went on to become a popular constituency MP until his retiral in 1997.

Lord Monro will also be remembered for his work with and support of relatives of those lost in the Lockerbie disaster on 1988 and its aftermath. Living just a few miles away, he was quickly on the scene offering help and comforting relatives from both this country and abroad. He was a key figure at the dedication at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC by President Bill Clinton of a Scottish cairn to those who lost their lives in the atrocity.

Lord Monro was born in Edinburgh in 1922 to a family with a distinguished military background and brought up near at Craigcleuch near Langholm when not accompanying his father, Captain Alastair Monro, on postings with the Cameron Highlanders.

He was educated at Canford School and Kings College, Cambridge, where he had a particular interest with the university air squadron and it was this interest that led him to divert from the family’s army background during the Second World War and join the RAF where he became a flight lieutenant.

He was with Coastal Command on Atlantic patrols flying Sunderlands before being trained in the United States on Catalinas and took part in covert patrols in the Far East. He served from 1941 to 1946 when he was demobbed on return from Hong Kong.On his return to Scotland, he took up farming at Craigcleuch but retained his interest in flying through the Royal Auxiliary Air Force flying Spitfires with No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron from 1947 to 1954.

In 1949, Lord Monro married Anne Welch at St Giles Cathedral, in Edinburgh. They later had two sons, Seymour, born in 1950, and Hughie in 1953 both of whom had successful careers in the British army rising to the rank of Major General and Brigadier respectively. Seymour was the Honorary Air Commodore of 2622 (Highland) Squadron from 2008 to 2019. Lady Monro died in 1994 and Lord Monro later married a family friend Doris Kaestner, of Baltimore in the US. Lord Monro died in 2006.

Mitchell Gordon 609 *

Pilot Officer Gordon T M Mitchell – 609 Squadron

Gordon Thomas Manners Mitchell was born in Ceylon on 24 September 1910. He was educated at Leys School, Cambridge and Queen’s College, Cambridge where he read Law and Economics. He was a member of the University Air Squadron from 1930 to 1932 and obtained his ‘A’ Grade Flying Licence.

In 1933 Mitchell obtained a commercial appointment in Sarawak and remained there for four years.

On his return to England he joined the Export Credits Guarantee Department in Bradford, West Yorkshire and was commissioned in 609 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force in November 1938. He was called to full-time service on 24 August 1939 and posted to 6 Flying Training School at Little Rissington on 7 October. With his training completed he rejoined 609 Squadron, then at Northolt, in May 1940.

He was shot down in combat by Oberleutnant Ludwig Franzisket of JG27 over a convoy off Portland on 11 July in Spitfire L1095 and reported ‘Missing’. His body was eventually washed ashore near Newport, Isle of Wight.

Mitchell is buried in All Saints’ churchyard, Letchworth, Hertfordshire.