Brigadier H. A. Skone CBE DSO

Contributed by Arthur Skone

John Skone (b.1825) was a Burgess of the City of Bristol as was his son Thomas (b.1861) who took 'The Oath of a Burgess' on 3 December 1902. Thomas Skone had earlier settled in India where he had married Ann Helen Kirby on 30 October 1893 at All Saints Church, Chaibasa. Their children Lily Ann Margaret (b.1894), Dorothy (b.1896), Harold Thomas John (b.1897), Hubert Allen (1899) and Mary (1901) were all born in Chakradharpur and baptised in the church where their parents had married.

Hubert Allen Skone was obviously destined for the army at an early age. One of the units of the Indian Defence Force was the Northern Bengal Mounted Rifles - the name was changed to Auxiliary Force after the First World War. The regiment had a Cadet Company on its establishment and this would account for the fourteen year old Hubert being accepted as a member (1913 - 1915). From 1916 to 1917, whilst at Wellington School, Somerset, he was listed as being in the O.T.C. (Officers Training Corps).

After passing out of Cadet College, Quetta he was posted to 2/3 Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles as a 2nd Lieutenant on 31 August 1918. For the next twenty years nearly all his service was with 2/3 Gurkha Rifles including many periods of active service on the turbulent Northwest Frontier where conditions of war, or near war, were the rule rather than the exception.

At the outbreak of World War 2 Hubert Skone was given Command of 3/6 Gurkha Rifles. He saw service again on the North West Frontier and then in Burma with the Second Wingate expedition - The Chindits!

During the Battle of Mogaung (23 - 27 June 1944) two members of 3/6 Gurkhas earned the Victoria Cross. Captain Michael Allmand was mortally wounded during the battle and died shortly afterwards. Rifleman Tulbahadur Pun received his Victoria Cross from the Viceroy, Field Marshall Lord Wavell, at a special parade held in Delhi on 3 March 1945.

Hubert Skone earned a high repution with both his Brigadier, Mike Calvert, and with Wingate himself, and in 1944 was awarded the DSO.

He then served as Commander of the 3rd Gurkha Centre in Dehra Dun and as a Brigade Commander in 10th Indian Division on its return to India. In 1948 he became Commander of the Kowloon Brigade, Hong Kong. Later, during the Malayan Emergency he was appointed Commander of North Malaya Sub District from which appointment he retired from the Army in 1953. He was appointed CBE. in 1949.

After leaving the army he took a job as a Retired Officer, working in MS branch at the War Office and was then, and in spite of a weak heart, appointed RO11 (Liason Officer Gurkha Personal) at H.Q. Brigade of Gurkhas.

Hubert Skone died on 1 October 1953 a couple of weeks after taking up the appointment and was buried at Cheras Road Christian Cemetary, Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.

The author of his Obituary described Brigadier Skone as a fluent Gurkhali speaker adding 'He knew the Gurkha intimately .......... he led them as no one else I have ever met has been able to.'

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by Stephen Luscombe