Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Farndale Phillips


Unit : Commando Headquarters, No.47 (Royal Marine) Commando

Service No. : CL 634

Awards : Distinguished Service Order, Knight Commander of the Order of Oranje Nassau with Swords


Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips was commanding 47 (Royal Marine) Commando during the assault in the Le Hamel area on 6th June 1944. The task of this Commando was to land behind the right assault brigade (231st Brigade) of the Division and after passing through it advance and capture Port En Bessin, a distance of some eight miles. Owing to the high wind and tempestuous seas several of the assault landing craft were swamped and the occupants had to swim for it - much equipment and many arms were lost. Undismayed by this fortune Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips soon had his men assembled and re-organised, those without weapon and equipment being made up from captured enemy material, and the advance began.


Soon after passing through the leading elements of 231st Brigade the Commando ran up against stiff resistance and from then on until the port fell to them the next day they had to fight the whole way. Never once did they falter or hesitate and by the skill and leadership and determination of Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips each successive point of resistance was methodically and relentlessly overpowered - some 250 prisoners were captured as well as a large number of enemy killed. The defence of the port was stronger than had been anticipated, and included some well armed flak ships. It was defended stubbornly and with great tenacity, but the commando was not to be denied and by great feat of arms and endurance finally triumphed. This outstanding achievement was largely due to Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips' gallant conduct and resolution, the inspiring example he set and his exceptional qualities as a leader and commander.


After the conclusion of the Normandy campaign, Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips continued to lead No.47 Commando until January 1945. He was subsequently promoted to Brigadier and given command of the 116th Infantry Brigade RM. For his service with both of these units in the Netherlands, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Oranje Nassau with Swords. His citation reads:


The above named officer commanded 47 (Royal Marine) Commando during the assault landing on Walcheren and later, until January 1945, on River Maas North of Ousterhout, when he returned to the United Kingdom on promotion. He returned the following month in command of 116th Infantry Brigade RM which was deployed on the River Maas between Tilburg and 's-Hertogenbosch. During the months of March and April the Royal Netherlands Brigade served under command and took part in many highly successful raids in strength across the river, notably at Hedel.


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