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Medals of Lieutenant Colonel Eric Phillips DSO

Medals of Lieutenant Colonel Eric Phillips DSO

  • Distinguished Service Order
  • 1914 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • British War Medal
  • Defence Medal
  • George V Silver Jubilee Medal
  • George VI Coronation Medal
  • Efficiency Decoration

Captain Eric Phillips, from Royston, arrived in France with the 1st Bn Hertfordshire Regiment in November 1914. He was seconded to No. 4 Entrenching Battalion but rejoined the Regiment a year later. As a Major, he was charged with picking up the remnants of the Regiment after the devastating losses at St Julien and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

On 23rd March 1918, Lt Col Phillips led the Battalion in the first Battle of the Somme, as the Battalion war diary describes:

“After an intense bombardment of our trenches, the enemy attacked with large numbers. The Bn, after heavy fighting, retired to a crest in front of the Fevillers-Hemwood road. Here the Bn lost its Commanding Officer, Lieut. Colonel E.C.M. Phillips, about whom, up to the time of writing, nothing is known.”

Captain Christie noted in his diary that “It was in the fighting that took place on this day that Col Phillips was last seen making a most gallant stand surrounded on all sides by Germans. His servant Private Hickling escaped but did not know whether Col. Phillips was taken prisoner or not.”Private Hickling, writing to Phillips’ family described the loss to the battalion: “We who are left are lost. We are like sheep without a shepherd. He was loved and respected by all… We have lost our leader and our friend.”

It was later discovered that Phillips had been taken prisoner and he was fortunately repatriated on Christmas day 1918. 

It is not known when Phillips was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, however it may well have been connected to the action prior to his capture. It is a gallantry award, given for highly successful command and leadership during active operations.

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