Photograph and information courtesy of Stephen Fayers
Born: 12th November 1896, Oakley, Essex.
Died: 17th February 1917; age: 20; KiA – Operations on the River Ancre, first Battle of Miraumont (11th January – 13th March).
Employed: Colchester Brewing Co., Ipswich.
Enlistment Date: 13th August 1914.
Service: At Dunkirk 20th September 1914 & Defence of Antwerp 3rd September 1914.
Accidentally wounded 11th August 1916 – rejoined battalion 16th August 1916. Gun Shot Wound to Right Hand 3rd December 1916 – rejoined 17th February 1917.
1st RMLI war diary for 10th August 1916, Douglas receives a mention with regard to his accidental wounding – together with one of his comrades, Pte. T Welsh, he was wounded when a Newton Pippin rifle grenade exploded prematurely. (Note the date of the incident recorded in the diary is the 10th August, not the 11th.) A court of enquiry was held on the 13th August.
Rank: Private; Service Number: CH/18660
Regiment: Royal Marine Light Infantry, 1st Battalion, Royal Naval Division.
Deal Battalion (listed as Chatham Battalion in 1914 Star Roll)
Body exhumed from River Trench Cemetery and reburied Queens Cemetery in 1919:
Pas de Calais,
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Allen & Martha Phillips, of 23, Bank Road, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich.
1901 Brewer Lane, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Douglas was 4 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
Allen Phillips, 39, a Gardener – Domestic, born Belgravia, London.
Martha Phillips (nee Scarff), 29, born Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Bertie Herbert E. Phillips, 7, born Ipswich.
Florence Kate Sophia Phillips, 6, born Dovercourt, Essex.
Donald Harold Edward Phillips, 1, born Dovercourt.
1911 Brewer Lane, Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Douglas was 14 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
Allen, 49, a Groom – Domestic – unemployed.
Bertie, 17, a Farm Labourer.
Caroline Victoria M. Phillips, 10, born Woodbridge.
Stanley Cecil Phillips, 5, born Woodbridge.
Note: Stephen Fayers
The photo of Douglas’s family would have been taken during 1918; from left to right are Douglas’s sister Florrie, older brother Albert (Bertie), his mum Martha, and his younger sister Vic. What’s quite poignant with this photo is you’ll notice Martha is wearing Douglas’s RMLI cap badge, gilded and made into a pendent, and Florrie is wearing one of his collar badges, similarly gilded and made into a broach. Vic had the other broached collar badge (which I’m privileged to be custodian of), though she isn’t wearing it here. (I suspect she had a royal telling off from her mum for not wearing it for the photo!) Nevertheless, you can tell from the photo that the family’s loss was keenly felt.
On the 4th January 1919, Douglas’s 1914 – 1915 Star was issued to his father Allen Phillips.
image from 1917 Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper
The Battle of Miraumont by the royal Naval Division including the Royal Marine Light Infantry took place during one of the coldest periods of the winter with frozen ground easy to cross muddy no man’s land, however the temperature increased and the ground became muddy. The Germans had noticed troop movements had increased and laid a large bombardment on the British lines. At 05:00 a.m. the 1st Battalion RMLI were hit by the German barrage suffering 50% casualties before the attack had begun. At 05:45 a.m. they advanced taking the German Sunken lane position by 06:40 with little casualties, they had taken the objective. On the morning of the offensive the 1st Battalion had estimated 500 men in the field, by the end of the day they had just 100 men fit for duty, most being killed or wounded during the German bombardment before the attack.
Royal Marine Light Infantry, 1st Battalion, Royal Naval Division