Skinner, Leslie F.
1911-2001; e.m.1937

Born in York on 26 November 1911, the son of a hairdresser. After training at Hartley Victoria College, in 1937 he was stationed in Lucknow, India. But a severe bout of malaria left him suffering from deafness and he returned to England the following year. After three years in North Derbyshire, in 1941 he was appointed an army chaplain, serving in Persia, Iraq, Egypt and the Western Desert, where a severe artillery bombardment increased his deafness and he was invalided home. As senior chaplain in the 8th Armoured Brigade,on D Day he was the first chaplain to set foot on French soil. Following close behind the tanks, he found himself evacuating the wounded and temporarily burying the dead in shallow graves. His wartime diary was published under the title The Man Who Worked on Sundays (1991).

He was twice mentioned in despatches and was decorated as Chevalier de l'Ordre Leopold II avec Palme and with the Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme. After the war he served in Manchester, Altrincham and London circuits, and also as chaplain to the Territorial Army, before retiring in 1977. He had a valuable flair for improvisation and a hand-on style of ministry. Experience of cutting through Army red tape fitted him well for dealing, sometimes forthrightly, with the postwar bureaucracies of both government and church. He died on 9 October 2001.

  • Church Times, 6 June 2014