George Chesterman Phillips DSO, RN

Born  5 Oct 1904


Photo from 1939

Ranks

15 Jan 1925 A/S.Lt.
15 Feb 1927 Lt.
15 Feb 1935 Lt.Cdr.
22 Dec 1939 Cdr.
??? A/Capt.
22 Dec 1944 Capt.

Retired: 22 Oct 1947


Decorations

1 Jan 1940 DSO

Warship Commands listed for George Chesterman Phillips, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Ursula (N 59)Lt.Cdr.Submarine8 Nov 19377 Apr 1940
HMS Talbot (F 06)A/Capt.Submarine Depot Ship15 Dec 19427 Jan 1944

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Submarine HMS Ursula (N 59)


31 Aug 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) departed Blyth to take up a patrol position in the Heligoland Bight. When war broke out between Britain and Germany this became her 1st war patrol.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

9 Sep 1939 (position 53.52, 6.05)
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) fired the first British submarine torpedoes of the war when attacking German U-boat U-35 about 23 nautical miles north of the island of Schiermonnikoog, Netherlands in position 53°52'N 06°05'E. The U-boat escaped only to be sunk roughly 2 months later.

1911 hours - The Asdic operator reported loud HE.

1913 hours - Sighted a German uboat (Oceangoing-type). Started attack.

1923 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 1000 yards.

1926 hours - The enemy was observed to have altered course towards, combing the tracks. It was also seen she increased speed as heavy exhaust smoke was seen. Ursula meanwhile turned for another attack.

1933 hours - Fired one torpedo. It missed. The target could only just be seen in the fading light.

1940 hours - Heard an underwater explosion, most likely the torpedo exploding upon the end of run.

1941 hours - Sighted a second submarine. But owning to the darkness it could not be attacked (This was most likely U-21).

2045 hours - Surfaced. (1)

13 Sep 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Blyth.

All three U-class boats suffered from engine defects upon returning from patrol. It was estimated Ursula would be out of action for about six weeks. (1)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) shifts from Blyth to Rosyth. (2)

28 Oct 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) departed Rosyth for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea.

For the daily positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

7 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Rosyth. (1)

14 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) was docked at Rosyth. (3)

17 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) was undocked. (3)

19 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) was docked again at Rosyth. (3)

20 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) was undocked. (3)

22 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) departed Rosyth for her 3rd war patrol. She was recalled later on the same day. (4)

23 Nov 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Blyth. She was to proceed on patrol again later this day but was unable to do so due to engine defects. (4)

4 Dec 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) departed Blyth for her 4th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Denmark and in the Heligoland Bight.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

14 Dec 1939 (position 54.08, 7.55)
Ursula was on patrol off the Elbe estuary and through her periscope her Commanding Officer, Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN, sighted a German light cruiser, escorted by six 'destroyers'. Though the waters of the Elbe estuary are shallow and to dive deep is a dangerous undertaking involving the risk of getting stuck on a sandbank, Phillips had either to take the risk or to miss his attack. His decision was instantaneous and he took the Ursula down to dive beneath the destroyer screen and get within range of the cruiser. They were anxious moments, but fortunately the depth of water was just enough. On coming up again to periscope depth, Phillips found himself within point-blank range of the cruiser. He fired a salvo of six torpedoes and the two resulting explosions were so close that the Ursula herself was badly shaken. A quick glance through the periscope showed no sign of the cruiser that had been attacked, but it did reveal four of her escorting destroyers closing in at high speed to attack.

However one of the escorts, F 9, had been hit and was sinking. Once again, risking the sandbanks, the Ursula went deep and by skilful manipulation of his boat, Phillips managed to evade the inevitable depth charges.

Of the cruiser, Leipzig, no further trace was seen, but when Phillips brought the Ursula back to look for evidence, two of the destroyers were still in the area and engaged, apparently, in a search for survivors. The British were under the impression they had sunk the cruiser and Lt.Cdr. Phillips was awarded the DSO and promoted.

1115 hours - Sighted a 'Koln-class' light cruiser escorted by six destroyers. Started attack. During the attack a Ursula had to go deep to evade one of the escorting destroyers.

1131 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 1200 yards. 1 min, 10 sec after firing a tremendous explosion occurred followed 6 seconds later by another even heavier explosion. This last explosion even broke some lights in Ursula. Four destroyers were gheard to come towards Ursula but no depth charges were dropped. Ursula managed to slip away from the scene.

It was thought that the cruiser had been sunk but in reality one of the escorts had been hit by two of the torpedoes and was sunk with heavy loss of life.

At the time F 9 was sunk she was part of the escort of the damaged Leipzig. Other escorts were; the destroyers Z 4 / Richard Beitzen, Z 8 / Bruno Heinemann, the escort vessel F 7, the minesweepers M 9, M 10, M 12 and M 13. Also in the area were the small minesweepers R 33, R 35, R 36, R 37, R 38 and R 39. R 36 and R 38 later picked up 34 survivors of F 9 (1)

20 Dec 1939
HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Phillips, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Blyth. (1)

10 Jan 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) departed Blyth for her 5th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Denmark / entrance to the Skagerrak.

For the daily positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

24 Jan 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) ended her 5th war patrol at Rosyth. (1)

25 Jan 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) departed Rosyth for Blyth. Late in the evening and when nearly at Blyth Ursula was ordered to turn back to Rosyth where she arrived early next moring. (4)

1 Feb 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) departed Rosyth for Blyth. (5)

2 Feb 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) arrtived at Blyth. (5)

3 Feb 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was docked at Blyth. (5)

12 Feb 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was undocked. (5)

20 Feb 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) departed Blyth for her 6th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Denmark.

For the daily positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

3 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) ended her 6th war patrol at Blyth. (1)

5 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was docked at Blyth. (6)

7 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was undocked. (6)

12 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) departed Blyth for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Kattegat / Skagerrak.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Ursula during this patrol see the map below.

(1)

21 Mar 1940 (position 57.48, 10.53)
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) torpedoed and sank the German merchant Heddernheim (4947 GRT, built 1921) in the Skagerrak about 10 nautical miles east-north-east of Skagen, Denmark in position 57°48'N, 10°53'E.

2146 hours - Sighted a dim lights of a ship. Closed to investigate. When close signalled the ship to stop. This they did not do. After another attempt the ship was seen to increase speed so a practice round was fired with the gun as a warning shot. The ship now stopped and was asked to identify her self. She signalled 'Estonian'. Meanwhile Ursula crossed close astern of the ship and with the Aldis light the name 'Heddernheim - Bremen' could be read. The crew was ordered to abandon ship. Meanwhile they were also signalling. The crew eventually sent a boat over but this all took a very long time, it was obvious they were 'buying time'. Once again they were ordered to abandon ship, which they did but again very slow. A second warning round was now fired and this speeded up things a bit.

While Ursula was manouvered into a position to torpedo the ship no.1 torpedo tube was fired by accident. This torpedo missed the ship.

Due to ice damage to Ursula only no.2 and no.5 torpedo tubes could be fired. so these were now brought to the ready. No.5 torpedo tube was now fired but the torpedo failed to run. Possibly it was damaged upon discharge als due to ice damage.

Now no.2 tube was fired. This torpedo hit the ship amidships and it sank shortly afterwards.

One prisoner was taken from the boats. (1)

23 Mar 1940
At 0010 hours (zone -1), HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) stopped the Danish merchant Sejrö (1489 GRT, built 1929) but released her after examination. (1)

25 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) ended her 7th war patrol at Blyth.

Ursula was damaged during this patrol by ice, Almost all torpedo tube outer doors were damaged and could not open and the after periscope was also bent by hitting ice and had to be replaced. (1)

27 Mar 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was docked at Blyth. (6)

2 Apr 1940
HMS Ursula (Cdr. G.C. Phillips, DSO, RN) was undocked. (7)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/1819
  2. ADM 173/16254
  3. ADM 173/16255
  4. ADM 199/373
  5. ADM 173/16691
  6. ADM 173/16692
  7. ADM 173/16693

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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