Profile: George Skipper

20th August 2018

The Boxer
Name: George Skipper
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps
Served: 1942-1947

A cockney born and bred, George Skipper grew up in the tough surroundings of 1920s East End London. With a family of four occupying a cramped one bed flat, and a father whose drink and gambling problems would often lead to violent outbursts, George had to learn to fend for himself from a very young age.

George was a keen and talented amateur boxer in his youth – then a popular pastime for working class boys in the East End. At 12 years old, he won the West Ham boys championship and as a young adult, he would share the boxing rings in Bethnal Green with infamous East End gangsters – the Kray twins.

Called up for Army service in 1941, George was quickly identified as a highly skilled gunner and was deployed to the Middle East with a special elite unit of 11 men who were part of the 7th Armoured Division, later nicknamed the ‘Desert Rats.’

After 14 months as a desert rat, and a short stint in England as a driver for the Colonels and Brigadiers that were assisting Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery to organise and prepare for the historic D Day landings, George himself was dispatched to Normandy’s Gold Beach, arriving during the early hours of 6th June 1944. 

Sinking just before they reached the shore and with relentless enemy fire showering down on the approaching Allied soldiers, George not only managed to pull his mates who couldn’t swim out of the water, but also made successful advances across enemy ground. George’s courage on that day and the months that followed, was recognised by the French government in 2015 when they awarded him the top military honour – the Légion d’Honneur.

From an East End boxing ring to the battlefield of the largest seaborne invasion in history, George’s colourful past is reflected in his demeanour today – dignified and proud, with a cockney charm and twinkly in the eye that allows a glimpse of the feisty, independent boy of his youth.

 

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.

News

View the archive

Brompton Cemetery Seed Sowing
Sowing wildflowers in memory of past Chelsea Pensioners

On 6 May, Chelsea Pensioners and members of the Royal Hospital’s grounds team joined representatives from the Royal Parks, the Royal Parks Guild and the Friends of Brompton Cemetery to sow a patch of wildflower seeds in Brompton Cemetery as part of the Battlefields and Butterflies initiative.

Chelsea Pensioner Centenarians
100 years old and still going strong

Recent research backs up the anecdote that Chelsea Pensioners not only live considerably longer than their peers outside (by over five years, on average), but that their lifetimes once they come to the Royal Hospital are extending, year on year. This strongly suggests that the care and community here contribute to greater longevity – as well as improving quality of life. 

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea