[Sgt Norman Taylor Phillips, 65 squadron]
Norman Taylor Phillips was born in Barnsole Road, Gillingham, Kent on 15th March 1909, the son of Herbert Edward Phillips and Harriett Phillips (nee Hooper). He was educated at Napier Road Council School. He joined the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in September 1924 and passed out in August 1927 as a Carpenter. When old enough to do so, Phillips applied for pilot training, was selected and passed out as a Sergeant-Pilot in 1931. He married shortly afterwards.
[Below: Norman Phillips married Winifred Youen Austen in July 1932 in Medway]
Phillips was subsequently promoted to Flight Sergeant but refused a commission so that he could remain on flying duties.
Phillips was serving with 65 Squadron at Hornchurch when war was declared on 3rd September 1939. He flew Spitfires during the withdrawal of troops from Dunkirk. On 27th May 1940 Phillips destroyed a Do17 'pencil' bomber. On 9th July when 65 squadron was flying from Manston, he engaged enemy aircraft in combat over North Foreland and shot down an Me109 into the sea off Ramsgate. As one of the closest operating bases to the Channel, squadrons based at Manston were constantly in action. and on the 24th July he got the opportunity to claim two damaged Do17s.
However Norman Phillips' luck was soon to run out. On Thursday 8th August during what became known as the 'Battle of Convoy CW9 (codenamed 'Peewit'), the south coast became the focus of intense aerial combat over the Channel between Kent and Dorset. At 11.45am, 'Chiefy' Phillips and other members of 65 squadron engaged Me109 fighters in a bitter dogfight over Manston aerodrome. He was shot down and killed during an action with Me109s, probably by Oblt. Muncheberg of III/JG26. His Spitfire, K9905, crashed and burned out in a cornfield in Thanet.
Phillips is buried in Chatham cemetery, Kent.
Forty years after his death, a special service was held by the Royal Air Force Association to commemorate his sacrifice in the Battle of Britain including a Guard of Honour by the boys of 1039 Gillingham and 1404 Chatham Squadrons, Air Training Corps. Efforts to trace his young bride at the time so that she might attend the service failed. However when she subsequently heard what had been done to mark his loss, she was overcome with emotion. As a measure of her thanks, she presented the Medway branch with the 65 squadron plaque that had been given to her by her husband's fellow pilots after his death.
If you would like to hear more about fighter pilots such as Norman Phillips and others in 65 squadron on either a London walking tour or whole day tour in East Kent, please get in touch now.
You can also visit the website www.thebattleofbritain.co.uk, call 07852 765901 or email email@example.com.
Photos and text courtesy of the Battle of Britain monument and 'The Battle of Britain: Then and Now'.