Sergeant Victor Hall Skillen (745460) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of William Robert Skillen and Margaret Skillen of St. Albans, 174 Newtownards Road, Belfast, Co. Down.
Born in Holywood, Co. Down, Victor’s education took place at Sullivan Upper School in the town. He then found employment with the Ministry of Agriculture. Victor enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in March 1939 and completed Pilot training with RAF No. 5 Operational Training Unit at Aston Down, Gloucestershire in May 1940. His first posting was to RAF 29 Squadron at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire on 16th June 1940. Skillen flew as a night-fighter pilot throughout the Battle of Britain. He was with the Squadron when Flight Lieutenant Guy Gibson took command in November 1940.
Before the outbreak of war, Victor had been a musician. In the evenings, he would play at RAF Sydenham, Belfast, Co. Down along with Sydney Ireland, Noel Corry, George Calwell, Herbie Megarry, and Johnny McAdam. His name was one of the 21 inscribed on the guitar belonging to Sergeant Sydney Ireland.
Battle of Britain
On 15th August 1940, RAF 29 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows Skillen taking part in a Radio Detection Finding trial. Afterward, a Heinkel HE111 burned out in a field near Bridlington, Yorkshire. Following this, he completed at least half a dozen nighttime sorties in the next couple of weeks.
Later in the Battle of Britain, he completed a similar number of sorties including a memorable mission on 21st September 1940. On that date, he came under attack by Allied Anti-Aircraft fire over Merseyside. On his return to the airfield, his plane collided with a searchlight. Again on the 25th September 1940, Skillen gave chase to 2 Luftwaffe planes and found himself coned by Allied searchlights.
He continued to carry out operational sorties beyond the Battle of Britain and completed a forced landing due to Wireless failure in November 1940. On 26th December 1940, he left the Squadron bound for RAF 23 Squadron at RAF Ford, West Sussex.
Victor died on 11th March 1941 aged 24 years old. He was the Pilot of Bristol Blenheim L1340 YP-X with RAF 23 Squadron. The crew took off from RAF Ford, West Sussex on a mission over Poix, France. Records suggest the plane collided with a Luftwaffe Heinkel HE111. All 3 crew members on board died as a result of the crash.
Remembering the crew of Blenheim L1340
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Information|
|Skillen||Victor Hall||Sergeant||Pilot||RAFVR 745460. Killed aged 24 years old.|
|Abbott||Francis Hibbs||Sergeant||Observer||RAFVR 745965. Killed aged 22 years old.|
|Nute||Romilly Ronald James||Sergeant||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||RAFVR 523120. Killed.|
Victor Hall Skillen’s grave is in Plot 1, Row A, Grave 12 of St. Pierre Cemetery, Amiens, France. His headstone bears the inscription:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.
Skillen’s name features on the Roll of Honour at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast, Co. Antrim.