A Collection of Awards to the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force

Date of Auction: 10th December 2014

Sold for £550

Estimate: £400 - £500

A Second World War ‘Southampton Blitz’ O.B.E. group of six awarded to Captain F. J. Phillips, a Deputy Controller and Air Raid Precautions Officer, late Royal Engineers, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, who was credited with two confirmed victories as a Flight Commander in No. 48 Squadron in 1918

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Civil) Officer’s 2nd type breast badge, silver-gilt; 1914-15 Star (4608 Spr. F. J. Phillips, R.E.); British War and Victory Medals (Capt. F. J. Phillips, R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 1 clasp, Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 (Capt. F. J. Phillips. R.A.F.), officially engraved naming, a late claim or duplicate issue; Defence Medal 1939-45, generally very fine (6) £400-500


O.B.E. London Gazette 1 January 1941.

Francis John Phillips, who was born in April 1895, enlisted in the Royal Engineers on the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, and first went out to France as a Sapper in the following year.

Subsequently transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, he qualified as a pilot, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in November 1917, following which he was posted to No. 48 Squadron out in France in the late summer of 1918. And as verified by official records, he claimed a brace of Fokker Biplanes in the month of October, while acting as a Flight Commander.

Of events on the 9th, his combat report stated:

‘I was leading a formation of 12 Bristol Fighters on offensive patrol. Having dropped our bombs at Courtrai, we turned west towards the lines. Shortly after turning west we met seven Fokker Biplanes which we engaged. The E.A. formation was very soon joined by another formation of five Fokker Biplanes. Having gathered out formation together after the first engagement, I led them at the E.A. formation. During the fight which ensued I saw one of our formation being attacked from the rear. I immediately sat on the tail of the E.A. and fired a short burst of 30 rounds into it. The E.A. turned over on its back and went down completely out of control, finally crashing between Heule and Courtrai. After it crashed a large cloud of amoke came from the machine. I then turned to attack other E.A.’

And of events on the 26th:

‘While flying in a formation of Bristols on offensive patrol, a formation of eight Fokker Biplanes was encountered over Renaix, which were engaged. During the fight Lieutenant Rae went down a distance of about 5,000 feet on the tail of a Fokker Biplane. Captain Phillips followed down, and as Lieutenant Rae pulled out of his dive the Flight Commander continued to follow the E.A. which immediately pulled up. As it pulled up Captain Phillips fired and the E.A. went straight down in a vertical dive, and hit the ground at Flobecq. The crash was seen by both pilots.’

Post-war he witnessed active service in the Third Afghan War, was advanced to Flying Officer in August 1924, and placed on the R.A.F. Reserve in January 1927, following which he entered commercial life and subsequently joined the staff of Phillips and Powis, aircraft manufacturers of Reading.

But with the looming prospect of war, he successfully applied for the post Deputy Controller and Air Raids Precautions Officer for Southampton, in which capacity he had responsibility for ‘the whole phase of precautionary methods, including gas masks, shelters, co-operation with hospitals, fire brigades, and police, and the question of volunteers for a variety of tasks (
The Sussex Daily Record, refers).

In what became known as the “Southampton Blitz”, the city was subjected to 57 raids and over 1,500 alarms, and according to A.R.P. records over 2,300 bombs were dropped, amounting to over 470 tonnes of high explosive, in addition to some 30,000 incendiary devices. Nearly 45,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and at the time of the worst raids in November and December 1940, there were reports of the burning city being seen as far away as Cherbourg.

Sold with an original newspaper cutting in respect of the recipient’s appointment as Deputy Controller and A.R.P. Officer in Southampton, together with a file of copied research.