Chief Engine Room Artificer 




Royal Navy

Died On:
20 January 1942


Tommy Phillips was born on 6 January 1902 in Portsmouth, the son of Thomas and Lucy Phillips.  He joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Artificer at 15 and trained at HMS FISGARD until 28 July 1917. He qualified as an Engine Room Artificer 5th class in 1 Jan 1922. He became an ERA 4th class in HMS BARHAM on 1 January 1923, and 3rd class in HMS CURLEW in January 1926.

By 8 December 1928 he was at HMS DOLPHIN. He joined HMS H43 on 13 March 1929, then HMS PROTEUS in March 1930. PROTEUS was in the 4th Flotilla based on Hong Kong.

In August 1932 he was drafted to HMS SWORDFISH for her first commission and became ERA 1st Class in January 1935, and Chief ERA 2nd Class in April 1935. In November 1935 he was drafted to Gibraltar and the depot ship HMS CYCLOPS, where he joined HMS SEVERN, serving off Palestine during the Arab Rebellion.

Tommy was almost certainly aboard HMS TRIUMPH in December 1939 when she hit a mine in the North Sea and survived – he is referenced in the board of enquiry report. He was definitely aboard TRIUMPH as early as June 1941, since he was commended for his work fixing her steering gear at that time.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (London Gazette of 20 January 1942) “for courage skill and resolution in successful submarine patrols” and again (London Gazette of 5 May 1942) “for daring, enterprise and devotion to duty in successful patrols in HM Submarines“.

Thomas Phillips was the husband of Ethel Mary Phillips, of Ringwood, Hampshire.  His wife was pregnant at the time of his death but the shock and upset brought on a miscarriage. He had died three days after his 40th birthday and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 67, Column 1.


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