Captain Leslie Skinner Saved Lives at D-Day

Captain Leslie Skinner is the name of an army chaplain who was vital to the survival of many during the invasion of Normandy which has come to be known as D-Day. A member of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, the captain kept numerous journals about his experiences during the Second World War. Leading up to the seventieth anniversary of the Normandy landings, the journals of Leslie Skinner are now available for public perusal.

The journals do not simply detail the lives that he saved, but the deaths that he honored as well. This is because caring for the injured was only one of his duties. Another primary course of action that Captain Leslie Skinner took during D-Day was to locate the bodies of his fallen fellows so that he could ensure a proper and respectful burial for them. His bravery was so strong that others did not need to share in the effort, nor did he want them to out of respect for their mental and emotional wellbeing.

The army padre did not have an easy time of his service work. Between the perils of enemy fire, not to mention the weather which plagued the beach itself, there was a sense of death pervading the air. Leslie Skinner encountered several injured men, and also witnessed the corpse of Captain Keith Douglas, a poet known for his writings on the Second World War. Douglas fell victim to mortar fire. The army chaplain dug his grave the same as if he were any other man.

Families of the fallen took to writing letters to the chaplain, as he was the one to notify a great number of them that their loved one had fallen to the fray. Over one hundred and fifty men fell dead or went missing during his tenure in the war, and Leslie Skinner took responsibility upon himself for searching them all out. In the end, it is estimated that he found almost all of the fallen soldiers that he shipped out with, excepting possibly six or so, the Mail Online reports.

Captain Leslie Skinner braved a battleground rife with tanks and enemy gunfire for the sake of his fallen comrades, and he did not stray from the cause for the entirety of his campaign. At one point, he had to be held back by a commanding officer to keep him from journeying out into a hectic battleground. Leslie Skinner was a man of faith, but he was also a man of fierce devotion. Thanks to his actions, over one hundred soldiers’ fates were relayed to their families that might have been otherwise forgotten.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE