Second Lieutenant Herbert Denis Phillips was killed in action on 24th October 1916, aged 26. Originally gazetted to the 10th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, he was attached to 5th Company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). He is buried at Stump Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, and is also commemorated on the war memorial at St Margaret’s Church. Olton.
The local newspaper carried a report of his death:
Birmingham Daily Mail 1st December 1916:Sec. Lieut. H. D. Phillips, S. Staffs R., attached Machine Gun Corps, who, as already reported, was killed in action on October 24th, was the second son of Mr G. F. Phillips, of “Wulverle”, Olton and was 26 years of age. He was managing director of Messrs. H. D. Phillips, Ltd., bulb growers, etc. and was regarded as an expert in the production of the choicest specimen daffodils. He had won many gold and silver medals and certificates, both at the London Horticultural Society’s Exhibition and those of the Midland Daffodil Society. He was also an artist of great ability, and on leaving school he was a student at the Birmingham School of Art, where, at the age of 17 he won the Ten Guineas Exhibition Prize in the open competition for sketching, and having expressed his intention of leaving of leaving the School of Arts, he was offered an additional prize of ten guineas by the president if he would continue, which, however, he declined to do. Immediately after the outbreak of war Sec.-Lieut. H. D. Phillips joined the University O.T.C., and was gazetted from there to the 10th South Staffs,. subsequently being attached to the Machine Gun Corps. His adjutant, writing to the late officer’s father, states: – “Your son volunteered for the front line in place of a new officer who had just come. He was an extraordinary person in that way, whenever there was any ‘strafe’ on he always wanted to be there.”
His mother, Emma (née Corrin), died in 1898, aged 33, leaving his father, George Frederick, with three young children aged between 8-11. He married again c. 1900 and had another son, George, with his second wife, Violet Eliza, who was from Jersey, Channel Islands. Violet died, aged 64 in Birmingham in 1934. George Frederick spent his final years in the Old Manor Nursing Home, Stratford-upon-Avon and died, aged 82, in 1940.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian