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On the 6 June, 1944, the largest seaborne invasion force in history set sail for France on a mission to liberate Europe.
If they didn’t succeed at this crucial point during World War II, Hitler would have the chance to mount a last-minute effort to save Germany – launching his new V-weapons against British cities. This day would go down in history as D-Day.
Each man carried a pack, a rifle, and the world’s hopes for freedom. Aged just 20 and newly married, George Skipper was one of those men.
75 years ago, George faced an uncertain future fighting for our liberty on the beaches of Normandy. You can help us support veterans like George and the Armed Forces community by making a donation today.
Chelsea pensioner George Skipper, 95, served in the Royal Army Service Corps from 1941 to 1947. He was quickly identified as a skilled gunner and in June 1944, 20-years-old and newly married, George was sent to Normandy.
His vessel approached Gold Beach in the early hours of 6 June, 1944. They arrived under heavy fire and were sinking before they reached the shore, so they had to jump into neckdeep water and swim to the beach. However, as many of his comrades couldn’t swim, George pulled them to shore. Once on the beach, they advanced forward under a storm of bullets.
George has vivid memories of D-Day. “I had my gun in my hand and just went forward. A lot got shot down but I was lucky. It was like something out of a Hollywood film and to this day, I honestly don’t know how I survived unscathed.”
George’s courage and actions during the Normandy invasion were recognised by the French government in 2015 when they awarded him the Légion d’Honneur, France’s top military honour.
But this accolade was tinged with immense sadness for those who had fallen that day. When George was given his medal by the French President, he said, “It’s too late. We lost too many men.”
After the invasion, George was posted to serve in Germany. He remained there after the war ended to help rebuild their houses and the communities that were bombed, before returning home to his wife and son in 1947.
George is Vice President of The Royal British Legion’s Warkworth Branch in Amble, Northumberland.
The Legion’s services offer a lifeline for thousands of serving and ex-Service people, which can only continue with your help. Please make a donation to show your support for veterans like George.
Your donations also help us to provide important commemorations like those for D-Day 75 and ensure the nation continues to remember.