Orders, Decorations and Medals (13 December 2007)

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Date of Auction: 13th December 2007

Sold for £5,200

Estimate: £3,000 - £3,500

An exceptional Great War ‘East African’ M.C. group of ten awarded to Captain J. E. T. Philipps, Uganda Intelligence Department and Uganda Police

Military Cross, G.V.R., unnamed;1914-15 Star (Capt., Uganda I.D.); British War and Victory Medals (Capt.); Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, East Africa 1918 (Capt., Uganda Police); 1939-45 Star; Belgium, Order of the Crown, 5th Class, silver and enamel, enamel damage to obv. centre; Turkey, Order of Medjidie, breast badge, silver, gold and enamel; Greece, Royal Order of the Redeemer, 5th Class, silver, silver-gilt and enamel; Belgium, African Campaign Medal 1914-17, bronze, mounted for wear, very fine and better (10) £3000-3500


M.C. London Gazette 1 February 1917. ‘Capt. James Erasmus Tray Phillips (sic), S. Afr. Intell. Dept.’

James Erasmus Tracy Philipps was born on 20 November 1888, the son of John Erasmus Philipps and Margaret Viscountess Dillon. He was educated at Marlborough and the Universities of Oxford and Durham, gaining a B.A. and B.Litt. Commissioned into the Rifle Brigade (Reserve of Officers) in 1913, he served in East Africa, on the German East African frontier, as Political Officer and O.C. Frontier Police Company. On 8 August 1914 he was the Assistant Intelligence Officer, Indian Expeditionary Force “B”, attached to the K.A.R. On 9 September 1914 he was in command of 2,000 armed levies and native scouts. In October 1914, Philipps was in command of 25 Uganda Police and Levies maintaining a watch on the southern border of Uganda, along the River Kagera, between Kifumbiro to Nsongezi; Lieutenant-Colonel L. H. Hickson, K.A.R., being in overall command of the forces on the frontier. During this service he was twice wounded (October and December 1914) and mentioned in despatches. In June 1915 he was Political Officer to the Bukoba Expeditionary Force under Major-General J. M. Stewart and was again mentioned in despatches. Appointed a Captain with the Kagera command Staff in January 1916; in August he became the Chief Intelligence Officer (G.S.O.3) of the Lake Command Staff, Tabora, in liaison with the Belgian Brigade du Nord. For his wartime services to that point he was awarded the Military Cross. During November 1916-March 1917 he was sent by General Smuts in charge of a Political Mission in British and Belgian areas of conquered territory; being invalided home in March. On his recovery, he was employed in the War Office with the Intelligence Staff, June-August 1917; then was similarly employed at the Admiralty, August-October 1917. He had been appointed by the War Office as major (G.S.O.2) to organise an Imperial Intelligence System for Eastern Africa, Red Sea, to Delagoa - but was unable to take up that appointment. In November 1917 he was employed by the Foreign Office and Intelligence Department on the Italian Front and in Abyssinia. In 1918, with the Arab Bureau, G.H.Q., Cairo, he was sent by the High Commissioner of Egypt to the Sudan on Special Duties. He raised two companies of Somalis, Arabs and Abyssinians for the K.A.R. and was on the Turkana Frontier Expedition, April-June 1918.

Postwar he was equally active. During 1919 he was Acting District Commissioner at Kigezi (British Ruanda), and was in charge of the final operations against the rebel Ntoki-Mbili (and the Nabingi Society) who had defied German and Anglo-Belgian forces for some seven years. In 1920 he was appointed District Judge at Kabala. In January 1921 he was attached to H.R.H. Prince William of Sweden in his scientific expedition to Africa, and subsequently made an expedition from Eastern to Western Equatorial Africa on foot through Belgian, French and Portuguese territories, via Lake Kivu. On this expedition he discovered the Lutra paraonyx philippsi, and had the dubious honour of presenting to the British Museum, the first specimen of Gorilla shot within the Empire. In September 1921 he attended the Pan-African Congress in Paris and in October was appointed British Relief Commissioner for South Russia under the auspice of the League of Nations. As a Member of the British Committee for Moslem Refugees, 1921-22, he received the Thanks of the Ottoman Government. During March 1922 he was in charge of the inquiry, for the Red Cross, as to the reason for the Turkish Emigration from Turkish Territories under Greek occupation - for which he received the Thanks of the nationalist ‘Comité de Thrace’. Following a period of sick leave, he was then employed as The Times War Correspondent in N.W. Anatolia and Thrace, during the Greco-Turkish War. During October-December 1922 he was British Liaison (Intelligence) Officer with the French Command in the Dardanelles, and with the Greek Civil Government of the Gallipoli Peninsular, until it was returned to the Turkish administration. The following year he was in Macedonia and Bulgaria with the Greek Army. Attached to the Egyptian Army in 1923, he was Commissioner for Tembura District in 1925. Between the wars he acted as a foreign correspondent; was employed by the War Office, 1939-40; was European Adviser to the Canadian Government on European Immigrant Communities, based at Ottawa, 1941-44. He was then employed as Chief of Section on Resettlement (U.N.R.R.A.) at Washington, 1944-45.

Philipps was fluent in English, French, Arabic, and had some German and Turkish and seven African languages. Was a F.R.C.S. and F.R.A.I. Was a member of the Academie des Sciences Coloniales de France; member of the Church of England Council on Foreign Relations; British member of the International Scientific Commission of Brussels; Member of the Institute of African National Parks and sometime General Secretary of the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources. In Kelly’s 1958, the award of both the Belgian Order of the Crown and Greek Order of the Redeemer are recorded.

Sold with portrait sketch of the recipient and two photographs, one entitled, ‘The Greco-Bulgar Incident. Frontier-Mission, 1925’; the other, ‘Sultan Missa of the Mangbetu with some of his consorts, & V. de V. & T.P., Congo, January 1935’. In addition, sold with a number of copied service papers including the recipient’s ‘Personal Record’ which lists his many and varied services to the year 1923.