Sunday, 28 September 2014

E. H. Phillips

Edward Howard Phillips (1885-1936) is not on the Roll of Honour for St Michael's Church. Not only did he (thankfully) survive the war, but he lived just beyond the bounds of the parish. Instead, he is of significance to us today as the grandfather of the current St Michael's PCC secretary, Mary Embleton. Edward's experiences also give us deeper insight into the varied lives of local men who served overseas and the families they left behind.

Private E. H. Phillips in uniform during the First World War
Edward Howard Phillips was born in Saint Pancras on 25th February 1885. A few months after his 30th birthday, on 19th June 1915, Edward (or Ted as he was known) married his sweetheart, Ethel Olive Partridge, in St Pancras Register Office. The witnesses were Ethel's sister, Jess Partridge, and her future husband Jack Mansell.
Food Card of Private E. H. Phillips, RAF 66 Wing
At the time of his attestation into the armed forces on 23rd July 1917, Ted was working as a clerk and living close to Highgate Village at number 2, West Hill. His Admiralty records reveal that he was 5'4 3/4'' tall, with black hair, brown eyes, a dark complexion and a tattooed left forearm. Ted enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), but ended the war as a Private 1, number 234034 of the Royal Air Force (RAF). He served with administrative units, including the President II, the Queen II, Pembroke II, before being assigned to the Royal Navy Balloon Base. Ted was sent to Brindisi, Italy in February 1918.
Mary has inherited a superb collection of seven letters written by Ted to his new wife while he was away on service. During the war Ethel lived with her parents at 6 Hilldrop Crescent, on the border of Holloway and Kentish Town.
On the 4th February 1918, Ethel received the following letter from Ted:

Ten days later, on the 14th April 1918, Ted wrote again to Ethel:

While serving with the RAF Adriatic Group, Ted also sent Ethel seven Rough Riders Postcards (blank on the back), the Rough Riders Badge (from the collar in the photograph above) and a postcard from Italy.

In September, Ted wrote from his base in Brindisi:

Edward wrote again in October, enclosing a cameo for Ethel's birthday.

Ethel had the cameo made into a ring. This is now in Mary's possession.
The ring that Mary's grandmother had made with the cameo mentioned in Ted's letter.
Four days letter, Ted wrote a longer letter:

Edward H. Phillips remained in the RAF after the Armistice in November 1918. He was given an extension of leave in February 1919 and finally transferred to RAF G Reserve on 20th March 1919. Mary's mother was born on 8th October 1919.

On 30th April 1920, Ted was deemed discharged from the RAF. For his service in the Great War, he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, both of which Mary has today.
Edward H. Phillips' campaign medals