PHILLIPS, Harold, James, P/SSX 24697 Able Seaman.
H.M.S. Glowworm, Royal Navy.
He was born in the summer of 1920 at Walsall, Staffs, the son of Arthur and Eliza Phillips (nee Hardwick).
He joined the navy at the beginning of the war.
Harold was killed in action in one of the iconic actions of the war.
H.M.S. Glowworm, a ‘G’ class destroyer, set sail for Norwegian waters on April 5th 1940 as part of a force intending to intercept the expected German invasion of Norway. On the 8th of April, Glowworm emerged from the rain to be confronted by the German Heavy Cruiser Hipper. Vastly outgunned and dwarfed by the Hipper, Lieutenant Commander Roope made smoke to try and hide from the Hipper as she carried out torpedo attacks. Ten were fired but all failed to hit the Hipper. By now, Glowworm had already received numerous hits from Hipper’s main and secondary armament. It was at this point that Lieutenant Commander Roope decided that there was no alternative other than to attempt to ram tearing off 100 feet of armoured belt. Glowworm backed away and Lieutenant Commander Roope opened the sea cocks to ensure Glowworm would sink. Hipper’s Captain, Helmuth Heye, brought his vessel to a halt in such a position that any survivors would drift towards the Hipper. Of Glowworm’s crew of 149, only 31 were rescued. They were treated well by the Captain and crew of the Hipper. Lieutenant Commander Roope’s action in taking on the Hipper was recognised by the award of the Victoria Cross. Uniquely, the recommendation for the award came from Captain Heye via the British Red Cross.
Harold Phillips was killed in action on the 8th April 1940, he was just 19 years old.
He has no grave but the sea and is remembered on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.