April Last Post

Today we were joined by Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from Horsell who brought with them two Standards and were impeccable on parade. There were seven Standards on parade and we had around 40 people in total.

Paul McCue from the Secret WW2 Learning network read the poem ‘After the soldier’s funeral’ by Samuel Francis Smith (1808 – 1895) and performed the Individual Remembrance.

We remembered Charles Milne Skepper, born on 26 February 1905 in Richmond Surrey. He was a gifted linguist, speaking German, Spanish, French and Chinese.

In 1939 he volunteered for military service in Britain and was later in charge of the propaganda broadcasting station of the British Ministry of Information in Shanghai. In 1942 he applied to join the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Skepper was flown into occupied France by a Lysander of the RAF’s 161 (Special Duties) Squadron, from RAF Tangmere, on 17 June 1943 to work with the French Resistance. He organised a number of significant acts of sabotage, but was arrested with others of his team, and local French helpers, on 23 or 25 March 1944.

It is not known precisely what happened to Skepper but a year after the war had ended, Skepper’s death was officially recognised by the War Office on 28 October 1946, where it was recorded as ‘Presumed died while in enemy hands on or shortly after 1 April 1944’.

Our padre was Bert Steed, our bugler was Mrs Ruth Moore and our Standard bearer was Mrs Sue Stallard.

Afterwards most of us went round to the Trench Experience for refreshments.

Original biography of Charles Skepper by Chris Husbands, Emeritus Reader in the Department of Sociology at LSE. Photos by Kevin Barker.