Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Lewis Phillips

Lewis Phillips :

Lewis Phillips :  Efficiency Medal

Efficiency Medal

We don't know anything about Lewis' early life or family.

He joined the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 19th April 1939 and was given the service number 3531158. This was a unit of the Territorial Army based in Ashton-under-Lyne.

During 1939 war with Germany began to seem inevitable. The TA was called into service on the 2nd September, the day before war was declared.

We don't know anything about Lewis' wartime service, but there is nothing to suggest he ever left the 9th Battalion. It was a mechanised machine gun battalion. It used the Vickers Machine Gun to provide supporting fire to infantry units.

After training in the UK the 9th Battalion was sent to France in April 1940 to defend against an expected German invasion. This period was known as the 'Phoney War' due to the large armies, and the lack of fighting.

The Germans invaded France and Belgium on the 10th May 1940. Despite the best efforts of British and French forces they were quickly overwhelmed and forced back to the Channel coast. Between the 27th May and the 4th June most of the British forces were evacuated from the town of Dunkirk.

After Dunkirk the British Army quickly reorganised itself. The 9th Battalion reformed in Lancaster then took part in the defence of the UK against an expected invasion. It was based in a number of different parts of the country.

On the 24th April 1941 the 9th Battalion sailed to Iceland. At the time this country was in a union with Denmark. After the Germans occupied Denmark the British were worried that the Germans might base submarines and aircraft in Iceland. This would make it impossible for convoys to sail from the United States to the UK, and could mean Britain starved and lost the war. To prevent this they had occupied Iceland in May 1940.

The Battalion was split between locations hundreds of miles apart and separated by very poor roads. It returned to the UK on the 6th November 1941 and were stationed around Stirling in Scotland. The Battalion moved again during the early part of 1942, and by June it was based in Kirkwall, helping to guard the naval base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

By late 1942 the 9th Battalion had moved to Southwold in Suffolk. It was sent overseas again in December 1943. After a short stay in Algeria it was sent to Sicily for training.

By April 1944 the battalion was fighting in the front lines in Italy. It was based in the East of the country, roughly level with Rome in the West. The Allies were advancing slowly north, but the Germans were putting up strong resistance. By the end of December the battalion was at the Lamone River.

In early 1945 the battalion left Italy for Greece. It was sent there to help maintain a ceasefire between the two sides in the Greek Civil War. It returned to Italy in mid April and didn't see any more fighting before the Germans surrendered on the 3rd May.

Lewis was transferred to the Class Z/T Reserve on the 17th August 1946. This meant he could return home and find a job. We don't know what that job was, or anything else about the rest of his life.

Lewis was awarded his Efficiency Medal for 12 years service in the TA. He could count his service during the war twice, so he is likely to have received it in 1945. His medal came to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1951.

Lewis will have received other medals for his Army service. If he fought with the 9th Battalion throughout the war these are likely to have been the 1939-45 Star, the Italy Star, the 1939-45 Defence Medal and the 1939-45 War Medal.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council