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Thread: P/O Clive Henry Phillips, RAAF

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    Default P/O Clive Henry Phillips, RAAF

    Did P/O Clive Henry Phillips, RAAF, sacrifice himself ? The following is gleaned from the service file of Flight Sergeant (later Flying Officer) Earl George Price, RCAF:

    Halifax W1215 of No.158 Squadron was shot down on the night of 5/6 August 1942. The captain (P/O Clive Henry Phillips, RAAF) was killed. This was not immediately appreciated at the time, there being questions as to whether he had survived. In Stalag Luft III, Wing Commander Day (the Senior British Officer) obtained a statement from the navigator, P/O L.V. Harvey (RAAF), as follows:

    "On the night of the 5th August, my aircraft was attacked and the rear gunner F/O [J.E.] Marshall was very badly wounded. As the aircraft was on fire the captain, P/O Phillips gave individual orders to abandon aircraft. These instructions were answered in the affirmative except by P/O Marshall, who stated that he could not move as he was hopelessly wounded and he asked the Captain to ‘abandon’, leaving him in the aircraft, but the Captain did not answer. The aircraft was by that time heavily on fire. Four of us managed to leave - Sergeant Thompson and Sergeant Furness from the rear escape hatch and the Wireless Operator, Sergeant Burn [sic - J. Byrne, who was mid-upper gunner] and myself from the front. All four of us landed safely and uninjured. The last impression I received was that the captain was still in his seat and seemed to have no intention of leaving, and Sergeant Price was ready to go but the flames were impassable and had reached the petrol tanks. As soon as I was clear of the aircraft it exploded and the starboard wing blew off. Three people were therefore trapped in the aircraft - P/O Phillips, P/O Marshall and Sergeant Price. The Germans confirmed that three bodies were found in the wreckage but they could only identify P/O Marshall. I was informed that they would be buried with military honours at Oldenbroek in Holland. The Burgomaster said that their graves would be marked and looked after by the Dutch people."

    In fact, the bomb aimer. Flight Sergeant Earl George Price, had survived, evaded, been awarded the DFM and returned to Canada. Early in 1943 he provided a statement. While incorrect in his assertion that Phillips was probably alive, he did confirm the nature of the man - cool and confident.

    "I baled out at approximately 13,000 feet, a few minutes after the starboard engine caught fire. The aircraft was, at that time, in a gentle dive. This dive was maintained until approximately 4,000 ot 5,000 feet when the starboard wing broke off.

    "The escape hatches were all open and the pilot, Pilot Officer Phillips, was not wounded to the best of my knowledge. It is possible that enemy fighter made a second attack after I baled out, but this is not considered probable as I would have heard the action.

    "In my opinion there is every possibility of Pilot Officer Phillips being alive, as he ws considered cool, collected and resourceful. I believe the possibility of his escape good. To support this contention the following information is submitted.

    "The Mid Upper Gunner, who occupied a very difficult position so fat as breaking away is concerned (and in this case complicated matters for himself by panicking) managed to bale out and is now a prisoner of war. The pilot’s position is also much nearer to an escape hatch than the M.U.G.

    "I consider that the aircraft was manageable and that the pilot’s seat should have been considered safe from fire for at least two or three minutes, and would have given ample time for the pilot to bale out.

    "In consideration Pilot Officer Phillips was exceptionally cool and I firmly believe that he is alive today."

    Phillips received no formal award, although it is conceivable that a Mention in Despatches might have been recommended.
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 25th December 2014 at 23:34.

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