SIR - The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings has now passed, and we now move towards the 75th Anniversary of VE Day: so my thoughts turn to the Skipton War Memorial and the names of those who did not return from the Second World War.

It occurs to me that it would be nice if there was a book of remembrance that told the story of the people behind the names: to be held in the Church or Town Hall. Because it is now very easy to discover more about the Skipton casualties on the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (

R N Hepper (the penultimate name on the second column) was my uncle. Uncle Ron was a Troop Serjeant with “A” Squadron, in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own), and he married Margaret Rodgers in the Parish Church, on 11 October 1943.

As the commander of a Sherman ‘swimming’ tank, he was on the very first wave of landings on the beaches of Normandy, on 6 June 1944, and for his actions that day he was awarded the Military Medal, which was presented by Field Marshal Montgomery at a ceremony which took place on 30 November 1944. The presentation is illustrated in the official history of the Regiment.

By 24 February 1944 the Regiment had crossed the German border and was engaged in the battle for Goch. According to the official account, my uncle’s tank struck a mine and was immobilised. He ordered three of his crew to abandon the vehicle; but he remained with his gunner Trooper Cowan, informing the troop commander that he “could keep his gun firing a bit longer”.

Sadly, a covering smoke screen cleared, and the tank was hit by enemy fire, killing my uncle and his gunner. They now lie side by side in the Reichwald Military Cemetery near to the place where they died.

The details of his interment can be found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, from which a memorial certificate can be downloaded.

There is no charge for the information or download, so families and friends can make their own enquiries; but it would be nice if a local organisation undertook to download all the certificates relating to the Skipton casualties of the Second World War, and placed them in a book of remembrance. If it was done in time for next year’s ‘celebrations’ it would be a valuable record of the men and women behind the names: who they were, how they served, and where they fell.

Group Captain P J Rodgers MBE RAF (Retd)

Eastfield Lane,