What Royston Did …

Accounts of Royston people from the Great War

Eric Charles Malcolm Phillips, CB, DSO, TD, DL, JP

image eric phillips takeing salute

Lieutenant Colonel, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment

Born in 1883 in Royston, son of John and Katherine Phillips of the family associated with Royston’s Brewery.

He joined the Hertfordshire Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on 5th March 1902 and with which he served until the formation of the Territorial Force in 1908. He resigned his commission in 1913 only to re-join as Captain in Sptember 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the war. He served in France on active duty with the “Hertfordshires” as both Captain and Major from November 1914.

image royston crow article colonel phillips takes command

Following the disastrous attack on St.Julien on 31st July 1917 in which all offerers of the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment were killed, including its then commander Lieutenant Colonel Frank Page, DSO, Major Phillips was given temporary command. 

In August 1917 he was “gazetted” Lieutenant Colonel and given permanent command of the 1st Battalion until wounded by a shell at St. Julien in January 1918. The following March he was taken prisoner at Clerysor-Somme and remain a captive until December 1918, a month after the Armistice was signed.

For his services he was mentioned in despatches and received the Distinguished Service Order. His name was brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for War for gallant and distinguished conduct in the field. He returned to the Hertfordshires as Major in 1920, acting as second in command. He received the Territorial Decorations in 1922 and was promoted to command in 1924. In 1928 he was further promoted to Brevet-Colonel and continued to command the Hertfordshires until 1931. He had been connected with the Regiment for 53 years when, in July 1952, as Joint Honorary Colonel with the Queen Mother, he took the salute for the last time at the Folkstone Camp.

In 1932 he was appointed A.D.C. to King George V. He also served in this capacity to King Edward VIII and King George VI. Appreciation for his services to the Territorial Army were shown when he received the honour of Companion of the Bath for his work in its support.

In April 1956 Colonel Phillips was knocked down in an accident while returning from a fishing holiday in Burford and, although he recovered from his fractured ankle, complications arose from time to time.  He died in January 1957, aged 73, at the Royston and District Hospital from brochitis and heart trouble. All who knew him agreed that Rosyton had lost someone who took his military responsibities seriously and who was widely involved with the business and political aspects of life in the town.