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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W M Skinner

 

Wilfred Malcolm Skinner was born on 31st July 1918 in Gloucester, the son of an ex-RFC pilot. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors School and worked for the Midland Bank before the war.

Skinner joined the RAFVR about April 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He accrued sufficient flying hours and had reached the standard required for him to be recommended for a full-time training period with the regular RAF.

On 10th June 1939 Skinner went from 5 E&RFTS Hanworth to 74 Squadron at Hornchurch. After the outbreak of war he remained with the squadron.

 

Above L to R: 74 Squadron - F/O AL Ricalton, Skinner, F/O JC Mungo-Park

 

Over Dunkirk on 24th May Skinner shot down a Ju88 and damaged a He111 and on the 27th he destroyed a Do17. He shared a He111 on 8th July, destroyed a Me109 on the 31st, shot down a Me110, shared two others and damaged another on 11th August and destroyed a Do17 and damaged another on the 13th.


During a routine patrol on 30th August, Skinner collided with P/O EWG Churches and baled out, unhurt. His Spitfire, X4022, crashed and burned out. On 2nd November Skinner destroyed a Me109 and on the 14th two Ju87's.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 21st December 1940).


In March 1941 Skinner was posted to 59 OTU Crosby-in-Eden as an instructor. He was commissioned in May and rejoined 74 Squadron, then at Rochford, on 10th June 1941.

Skinner was shot down on 6th July 1941 during Circus 35, escorting Stirlings to Lille steelworks, in Spitfire Vb W3208. He was captured near Dunkirk and taken prisoner, ending up in Stalag Luft 3. He was 74's longest-serving member.

Skinner was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant. He later rejoined the RAFVR.

Skinner died on 26th June 2003.

 


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