University of Oxford
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5572: Yeoman Signaller Walter Phillips

online resource
posted on 2024-01-12, 09:30 authored by Lest We Forget Project Team

Walter Phillips was born at Sherwell Farm, Plympton, Devon, 12-05-1885. Family story said Walter ran away to sea at the age of 14 to avoid working on the farm, but service record shows he was a labourer at the time of joining the RN at age 18.

Joined Royal Navy 12-05-1903 and that year awarded a telescope as a prize for proficiency in signals. By May 1905 was a leading signaller. Service included Battle of Jutland (HMS Temeraire 30-09-1913 to 2-05-1919) as Yeoman Signaller. Also served on newly-commissioned HMS Hood 15-05-20 to 14-05-1923. Proud wife Margaret used to tell the story that their son, William Walter Phillips (then aged around 4) was allowed to lower the flag on HMS Hood.

Walter joined the RFA on 12-05-1925 but on 20-05-1925 transferred into the Royal Navy Shore Signal Service, serving in shore signal stations around the UK, including Prawle Point, Devon. Apparently he was popular with ships' crews because his signalling was fast and accurate enough to relay the football scores as the ships cruised past the stations. By 1933 had been promoted to Chief Officer (St Abbs Head). Son William also had a career in the Armed Forces, but chose the RAF in 1930 aged 16 (he considered it more exciting than the Royal Navy) as an apprentice aircraftsman. Walter died in Southend-on-Sea in the 1930's (date not yet discovered).


Name of contributor(s)

Judith Morse (nee Phillips); granddaughter of Walter Phillips

Subject of the story/individual the object(s) relate to

Yeoman Signaller Walter Phillips

Date(s) the event(s) in the story took place


Location(s) where the event(s) in the story took place

Various including Battle of Jutland


2 photos Walter's medals; 3 photos Walter's telescope; Photo of Walter in RNShore Signals uniform (with cap); Photo of Walter as a young man; Photo of Walter in RN uniform with signaller collar badges (no cap); PDFs of Walter's RN (1 page) and RNSS (2 pages) service records.

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