Jack Skingley and his Poem

Jack with his wife Marjorie and daughter Jackie

Photograph at the head of this page: Jack with his mother and his daughter Jackie on a sunny summer’s day in a hayfield at the family farm in Bedfordshire.

The RAF Pathfinders Archive is greatly privileged to have been given the original manuscript of Jack Skingley’s poem OUR HEROES. It was written on the headed notepaper of the Regent Palace Hotel, a favourite haunt of aircrew on leave in London

First page of the poem

The poem is not dated. However, it is believed to have been written in tribute to Jack’s best friend Wing Commander Eric Woods, DFC and bar, who was killed on 16 December 1943 off the Greek coast when flying his spitfire. Jack and Eric had served together in the Reigate Police Force before the war. Eric was the godfather of Jack’s little daughter Jackie.

Newspaper cuttings on Eric Woods, preserved by the Skingley family.

It is also thought that the poem was written to be read to an audience, perhaps at a special dinner or occasion, because of the way it ends, asking people to stand up and drink to the memory of “OUR HEROES”. 

So charge your cups
And stand in prideful pose
To drink a toast to Victory and to Those
Who counted not the price….
I give you ‘Our Heroes’

Last page of poem, initialled “JS”.

Extract from Bomber Command Losses – 20/21.7.44
Lancaster III PA979 OF – R. Op Courtrai. T/O 2319 Coningsby with orders to bomb railway yards. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Eric and Jack are commemorated on the Surrey Constabulary memorial; their names are on the right, separated only by four lines. The memorial can be found at Surrey Police Headquarters, Mount Browne, Guildford.

We are most grateful to Jack’s daughter, Jackie Maude, and to Jack’s other descendants, for donating OUR HEROES to the Archive; it is a wonderful link to the history of our Path Finder Force.

In memory of Jack and his devoted son, Ross Skingley, who died on 21 August 2023.

Marjorie, Jack’s wife, with Ross and Jackie, 1946.

All photographs courtesy of the Skingley family.


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