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The Airmen's Stories - P/O P Olver


Peter Olver was born in Leamington Spa on 4th April 1917. He was educated at Eniscote Lawn Preparatory School and Bromsgrove and later studied Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

After working for various undertakings, of which his father was General Manager and Director, Olver went to the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Electric Power Company as a Power Development Officer.



About March 1938 he joined the RAFVR at Derby but did little flying before being called to full-time service on 1st September 1939. Olver eventually went to 3 ITW Hastings and moved on to 22 EFTS Cambridge in early April 1940. On 25th June he was posted to 5 FTS Sealand. After completing the course he went to 7 OTU Hawarden on 17th September where he flew ten hours converting to the Spitfire.

Olver joined 611 Squadron at Digby on 29th September, moving to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch on 24th October. The next day, on his first operational sortie, Olver was shot down by Me109s over Hastings and baled out, slightly wounded. His Spitfire, P7309, crashed at Pickdick Farm, Brede, Sussex.

On 11th November Olver probably destroyed a Ju87 and during the month shared in the destruction of a Me110 and a Do17. In mid-December 603 returned to Scotland for a rest. Olver asked to be posted to 11 Group and joined 66 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 25th December 1940.

He shared a He111 and damaged another on 27th May 1941 and probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on 20th August. Olver was made a Flight Commander in October. Tour-expired, he was posted to Warmwell to formulate the 10 Group Towing Flight, flying Lysanders.

Olver volunteered for the Middle East and on 8th June 1942 he arrived at Gambut, where he was attached to 213 Squadron, operating as supernumerary Flight Lieutenant. He was posted to 238 Squadron in the Western Desert on 30th June as a Flight Commander. On 15th July Olver damaged a Ju88, on the 16th he probably destroyed a Ju87 and on 7th August he damaged a Me109.

On 13th October 1942 Olver was given command of 213 Squadron. On 2nd November he destroyed a Ju87, probably another and damaged a third and on the 14th he destroyed three CR42s on the ground at Agedabia. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 5th January 1943).

Olver took command of No. 1 (SAAF) Squadron on 1st January 1943 and on the 21st destroyed a Mc202. He was appointed Squadron Leader Flying 244 Wing on 5th February and when the CO, W/Cdr. IR Gleed, was killed on 16th April Olver took temporary command of the Wing. He shared in the destruction of a Mc205 and damaged a Me109 on the 17th.

Olver was promoted to Acting Wing Commander on 5th May and his appointment as Wing Commander Flying 244 Wing was confirmed. On this day he damaged a Me109.

Leading a patrol over the American landing in Sicily on 11th June 1943, Olver shot down two Me109s and then chased some Ju88s. His fuel tank was set alight by return fire and he was unable to get his Spitfire IX back to the sea. He baled out very low near Caltagirone, wounded and burned, and was captured.

After being in hospitals in Sicily and Naples for some time, Olver was sent to Germany. He was in PoW camps at Hammerstein and Kassel, then Stalag Luft III at Sagan. Olver was flown to England from Diepholz on VE Day, 8th May 1945.

He did a refresher course on Harvards at Coleby Grange, then went to Technical Training Command and was put in charge of 3 Wing at RAF Wilmslow. He was later posted to RAF Chivenor on Spitfire XVIs.

Olver was released from the RAF at his own request in 1947 as a Squadron Leader. He married a WAAF officer, they eventually had four sons, and emigrated to Kenya in September 1947 to farm there.

He returned to the UK in 1963 and farmed in Devon until his retirement.

He died on 14th February 2013.

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