Me­mo­rial to High­land VC hero un­veiled in birth­place

War­rant of­fi­cer killed in First World War

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY ALIS­TAIR MUNRO

Amemo­rial for a First World War Vic­to­ria Cross hero was un­veiled in his High­land birth­place yes­ter­day. The cer­e­mony for Com­pany Sergeant John Skin­ner was per­formed in In­ver, near Tain, by Lord-Lieu­tenant Janet Bowen.

A small crowd gath­ered in bright sun­shine to wit­ness the un­veil­ing a me­mo­rial stone for the sol­der, who had served in the King’s Own Scot­tish Border­ers.

He was awarded the VC for his out­stand­ing brav­ery in the bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele in Au­gust 2017.

The sol­dier is renowned as a dare­devil war hero for his acts.

His ci­ta­tion reads “For most con­spic­u­ous brav­ery and good lead­ing.

“While his com­pany was at­tack­ing, ma­chine gun fire opened on the left flank, de­lay­ing the ad­vance.

“Al­though CSM Skin­ner was wounded in the head, he col­lected six men, and with great courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion worked round the left flank of three block houses from which the ma­chine gun fire was com­ing, and suc­ceeded in bomb­ing and tak­ing the first block­house sin­gle­handed.

“Then, lead­ing his six men to­wards the other two block­houses, he skil­fully cleared them, tak­ing 60 pris­on­ers, three ma­chine guns, and two trench mor­tars.

“The dash and gal­lantry dis­played by this war­rant of­fi­cer en­abled the ob­jec­tive to be reached and con­sol­i­dated.”

Though in­jured, Skin­ner – the son of a tailor whose fam­ily had moved to Glas­gow from the High­lands – de­cided to ig­nore or­ders send­ing him home to Scot­land and in­stead re­turned to his unit in Bel­gium.

On March 17 1918, he was shot and killed as he tried to res­cue a wounded man.

At his funeral in Vlamert­inghe, Bel­gium, his cof­fin was car­ried by six other VCs, in­clud­ing a gen­eral and a pri­vate, stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der.

It was thought to be the only time six VCs had acted as pall bear­ers.

Lo­cal coun­cil­lor Alas­dair Rhind said: “This is a last­ing me­mo­rial in his home com­mu­nity.

“This is very im­por­tant in the com­mu­nity of In­ver, where he was born, to re­mem­ber the heroic deeds of this man in be­ing awarded the high­est hon­our to be af­forded to a sol­der.”

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