Picture courtesy of DNW
QSA (5) Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Lieut. N. C. Phillips. L.N. Lanc: Rgt:);
1914-15 Star (Capt. N. C. Phillips. L.N. Lan. R.);
British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Lt. Col. N. C. Phillips)
DSO London Gazette 4 June 1917. MC London Gazette 3 June 1916. MID London Gazette 4 January 1917 (France); 25 May 1917 (France)
Noel Clive Phillips was born in 1883, educated at Marlborough College and was commissioned Second Lieutenant into the 3rd Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Militia) on 24 August 1901. He served with them, and also on attachment to the Army Service Corps, in South Africa from 1901 to 1903 before resigning his commission in 1904 to join the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation at Rangoon. Re-commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 15 February 1915, he was quickly promoted Captain and served with the 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division in France from 17 July 1915. The 1st Battalion fought at the battle of Loos (25 September - 10 October 1915) where Phillips took command of the remnants of the battalion (3 officers and 159 men) on 25 September despite having been badly gassed earlier in the day. He was recommended for the DSO on 5 October 1915 and subsequently awarded an MC.
He was promoted Temporary Major on 3 April 1916 and Acting Lieutenant-Colonel on 27 September 1916 and during the Battles of the Somme, 1 July 1916 - 19 November 1916, he was intermittently in command of the 1st Battalion. His own account of the operations in which they took part on 18 August 1916 is included in the The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment Vol II 1914-19 by Colonel H. C. Wylly, C.B., from which the following excerpt is taken :
‘In conjunction with attacks by the French and ourselves from Thiepval to the Somme, the Battalion attacked the German line from the right of the 1st Northamptonshire to the north-west corner of High Wood, and also a trench running along its western edge. At zero time - 2.45pm - the right platoon, which was detailed to attack the trench and to form a strong point at the north-west corner of High Wood, left its trenches and was seen to advance into our own bombardment, which was not timed to lift until later. The remainder appear to have followed too quickly and suffered a similar fate, though up to the present - this account is dated 28th August - no survivors have been found to give any reliable account.
The left platoon delayed its assault until about 3.20pm and, advancing close under our barrage, entered the German trench without difficulty, assisted by the Northamptonshires on our left. By the time the third line got in only one officer had not become a casualty; he, realising that on the right the trench was unoccupied, extended his men down the trench to within 200 yards of High Wood and commenced to consolidate the position. A further advance was made later, and our right now rests within 120 yards of the north-west corner of High Wood.’
Phillips was awarded the DSO and mentioned twice in 1917; war diary entries confirm him to have been in command of the 1/Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in the period from March 1917 to April 1918. During this time the Battalion was engaged in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres). Both the war diary and his Army Record of Service Book, containing the following statement from the Major-General, Commanding 1st Division, suggest that he then succumbed to illness:
‘Lt Col N C Phillips DSO, MC, served under me for 2 years, part of the time in Comd of a Battn. Under him the Battn did excellent work in the fighting in 1916 & 17. He commanded his Battn with much energy, tact and ability and I regret losing his services owing to illness.’
He resigned his commission in 1920 in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and returned to Burma where he became Manager of the Bombay Burma Trading Company, in whose employ he had previously been. Leaving Burma in 1931 he returned to England and took a leading part in the public life of Radnorshire. He died on 15 August 1961.