George Phillips, HMS Hermes 9

Hello Mac

Can you advise me as to where to look next(?) Sixty years ago I looked up on my Grandmother's parlour wall and saw a portrait of a sailor. Being curious I asked my Mother who it was she said it was her brother George who went down with a ship during the war. No one in the family would talk about it including my Uncle ( George's brother) who is the only one alive now (88yrs). I have been haunted by the portrait for sixty years now and just want to be able to have a picture of my Uncle for my photo album to be complete. I have recently found out the Uncle's name was George Phillips who died with the sinking of HMS Hermes 9. His name is on the Plymouth Memorial. I live in the Caribbean so the only thing I have to rely on is the internet. Do you know if any of the crew members are still alive? perhaps somebody may have pictures or may have known my Uncle. I am desperate to see a picture of my uncle before I leave this world. My children ask me about him and unfortunately I don't have much to tell them. My living Uncle cries everytime he is asked about it so my sisters are reluctant to ask him anything else. I appreciate your time and all your knowledge Your website is very interesting and informative. Thank You for your time and efforts.

Best Regards
Anita Richardson
Anguilla BWI


As your Uncle was a stoker, his action station would be well below decks, and most likely he was unable to reach the flight deck to escape before his ship sank as a result of the Japanese aircraft torpedo attacks.

In my experience it is almost impossible to dig out a photograph of an individual Sailor who served in WW2, one may on occasion be lucky, but its rather a rare event. As the years roll by less of those who served at sea in WW2 still survive, I was but 17 in August of 1939 and went off to the Australian Fleet, I am now 86.

Go to this URL: http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/ships/Hermes.html  for a quite detailed history about Hermes until her sinking in 1942 by the Japanese.

Here are his Certificate and casuality details from the Commonwealth War Graves  Commission, and panel 70, column 2 at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, scroll down to find your Uncle's name. 

In Memory of

D/SS 124690, H.M.S. Hermes, Royal Navy
who died age 41
on 09 April 1942
Husband of Emily Phillips, of Windsor.
Remembered with honour

Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Casualty Details
Initials:  G T H
Nationality:  United Kingdom
Rank:  Stoker 1st Class
Regiment/Service:  Royal Navy
Unit Text:  H.M.S. Hermes
Age:  41
Date of Death:  09/04/1942
Service No:  D/SS 124690
Additional information:  Husband of Emily Phillips, of Windsor.
Casualty Type:  Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference:  Panel 70, Column 2.

George's official Number is D/SS 124690, the D stands for his Homeport, Devonport. SS means he signed on under this agreement:

Special Service, then a fairly recent introduction was for 5 years with the fleet followed by 7 years on the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR), liable for recall at any time. Most stokers were on this engagement. While RFR the man was paid an annual bounty, not much, but a useful addition to his civilian wages. The proportions of the SS engagement were later reversed to 7 years with the fleet followed by 5 years RFR.
For service details after 1938 you should write to this address, and ask for his records and if a photo is on file amongst George's Records.

Data Protection Cell (Navy)
Victory View
Building 1/152
HM Naval Base

When you have his records, it should show where he carried out his stoker training and when, they just might have taken a photo of George's class at the time he trained as a stoker, remote, but a possibility.

At this URL: http://www.hmshermes.org.uk/ you will find the HMS Hermes Association, it may be worthwhile contacting them by email, to ask do they have any photographs of individual Stokers who were lost in the ship?

Anita I guess that just about exhausts my suggestions.

Good luck.
Best wishes,


Thank you so much for the reply. I have had some help from a historian in Eton Wick. He said that my uncle's son also named George joined the navy because of his father's death. After WWII he lived in Eton Wick so they are trying to trace relatives to see if we can obtain a picture and any other information. I think still that I will have to see a birth certificate to see if his Mother was in fact my Grandmother. Once again many thanks for your time and efforts in helping me I will inform you of any further information received.

Take Care and God Bless.

Regards from
Anita Richardson

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