Rank Second Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 22/03/1918
Age 20
Regiment/Service Tank Corps "A" Company 2nd Battalion.
Memorial Poziers Memorial, France. The memorial is 6 kms north-east of Albert. It relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 and its aftermath when the Allied 5th Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the Somme battlefields. It commemorates over 14,000 British and 300 South African casualties who have no known grave and died between 21st March and 7th August 1918.

 

Philip was born on 5th February 1898 in Church End, Finchley. His parents were Percy Holland (b.1867) and Phoebe Emmeline Bissill Chambers (1867-1945). He had one sibling: Katherine Elizabeth (b.1896).

Philip was baptised at Holy Trinity East Finchley on 1st May 1898 and his address was 13 Station Road, Finchley. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family were listed as living at 95 Station Road and his father’s occupation was ‘solicitor’. His father was a partner of Brash, Wheeler, Chambers & Co, 16 Paternoster Row London EC4. At the time of the 1911 Census, the family were residing at the same address. By this time, Philip’s parents has been married for 16 years. Philip was confirmed by the Bishop of London at St-Mary-at-Finchley Church on 7th April 1914, aged 16, with his address still being 95, Station Road.

Philip was a pupil at Christ’s College and Mercer’s School, Holborn, an independent school founded in 1542 which closed in 1959. He served in the Mercers’ School Cadet Corps and left in May 1916 to join up. On 8th June 1916 he enlisted, initially as a Private in the 28th London Regiment, stating that his age was 18 years and 3 months. He gave the family home of Cremona, 31 Mountfield Road, Finchley as his address and his trade or calling was ‘student’. He was sent to train at the Hare Hall Camp, Artists Rifles OTC, in Gidea Park, Romford, Essex. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in January 1917 and then served as a Second Lieutenant in the Tank Corps.

He arrived in France on 1st May 1917, having travelled from Folkestone to Boulogne.  On 22nd September 1917, he was admitted to hospital with impetigo being discharged three days later, returning to duty on 27th October. He was on leave in England from 1st to 22nd December 1917.

Philip was reported missing on 22nd March 1918 and on 28th March his father received a telegram to this effect. On 14th July 1918 the War office wrote to his father saying that following enquiries through Princess Blucher (an Englishwoman who was married to Gebhard Blücher von Wahlstatt, the fourth Prince Blücher), which were received via diplomatic channels, Philip was not a prisoner of war.

Philip’s death was confirmed by Corporal Arthur Bateman of the 2nd Tank Corps, a member of his tank crew in a letter, dated 14 April 1918, which he sent to his own mother from Germany while a prisoner of war. She then wrote to Philip’s father telling him that his son had died. On receipt of this letter on 23rd July 1918, Philip’s father wrote to the War Office saying, ‘I will hope that Cpl Bateman is wrong and that my son was only wounded and is a prisoner, and I trust that you will soon be able to get reassuring news for me.’ Unfortunately, no such news was forthcoming.

The tank crew at time of Philip’s death were:

1st Driver         200301            Private W Price         prisoner

2nd Driver        200328            Sgt J B Myers             killed in incident

3rd Driver        76614              Private Chapman       killed in incident

Gunners           201884            Private J Doran         ‘was wounded and I expect was picked up’

Gunners           78669             Private J Ryan           ‘was wounded and I do not expect lived’

Gunners           75489              Private W F Axon      prisoner

Gunners           75290              Cpl S Batman

Tanks in the Great War 1914-1918 by J C Fuller (published 1920), gives details of the action in which Philip was killed:

"On March 22, an Advanced Tank Corps Headquarters was opened at Hamencourt, a mile east of Doullens, in order to facilitate the battle liaison duties of the staff. On this day a most successful and gallant action was fought by the 2nd Tank Battalion in the neighbourhood of Vaux Vraucourt and Morchies. At 2.45 p.m. orders were issued for the Battalion to advance and counterattack the enemy, who had broken through the line Vaux Vraucourt-Morchies and was pushing forward towards Beugny.

Two companies of infantry were detailed to support the tanks, but as eventually these could not be spared the tanks went into action alone. The counter-attack began to develop around Beugny at about 4.30 p.m. Concentrated artillery fire was brought to bear on the tanks, but in spite of this they advanced amongst the enemy, put a field battery out of action, and by enfilading several trenches full of Germans inflicted heavy casualties on them. The enemy was eventually driven back behind the Vaux Vraucourt-Morchies position, which was then reoccupied by our infantry. Thirty tanks took part in this action; seventeen of these were hit and 70 per cent, of casualties suffered by their crews. Heavy though these losses were the enemy had suffered severely, and more important still his plan of action was upset."

https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/narratives/1918/kaiserschlacht/2nd-battalion-21st---30th-march-1918 has further details of the action on 22nd March 1918. 

An examination of the monthly magazines of St Luke’s Finchley reveal that Philip’s father was a sidesman’s of the church. Furthermore, his sister was thanked by the Vicar in the January 1916 edition of the monthly magazine for decorating the church’s communion rails for the 1915 Christmas services and then in May 1916 edition for decorating them for the Easter 1916 services.

The May 1918 monthly magazine of St Luke’s Finchley lists Philip’s name in the Roll of Honour, merely stating that he was missing. The November 1918 edition says that he is, ‘now assumed by the War Office to have been killed on March 21st, 1918 … there may still be grounds for hope as no certain news has yet been received. His parents are well known in the congregation and have the prayerful sympathy of all their friends during these months of anxiety.’