“Lest we forget”
The ceremonial Flag of St. George had hung on the north wall of the chancel of St. Patrick’s Church, Barking for sixty years or more. All that was known was that it was given by Mrs. Philo in memory of her son who had been killed in action in World War II. Recently it was replaced by a banner of no particular interest using the mounting and also using the bottom half of the flagpole on which to hang it, the St. George’s flag being consigned to the wall of the south aisle of the nave.
Following the redecoration of the church the flag was not re-
“the restoration of the banner of St. George given by a mother in memory of her son who died, as so many sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, brothers and sisters did in WWII, to preserve our freedom, to its original position [on the wall of the chancel] as a token of respect to Mrs. Philo’s son and all those who gave up their tomorrow for our today”
was rejected by the church committee who decided that the flag was beyond repair but to be kept under the communion table.
Arising from this an approach was made for an explanatory piece to be written to be enclosed with the flag and I am grateful to the churchwardens for providing me with the opportunity to undertake the task. Little dreamt I what was about to be uncovered.
Having very little information to impart, I contacted the local library and they put me in touch with Ms. Linda Rhodes (Local Studies Librarian), to whom I am deeply indebted, who discovered a substantial amount of information concerning the son on the internet and provided leads to persons who might provide details of his early life. To date, evidence indicates that the son’s name was Stanley James Verse Philo, his home was in Wedderburn Road, he was probably educated locally, volunteered for active service, serving in the R.A.F.V.R., shot down over France when he was aged 20 and escaped back to England. He was killed in action on the 3 April 1945 aged 22, and is interred in Cambridge City Cemetery.
The following article, which provides a poignant record of his bale out over France and his escape to England, discovered by Ms. Rhodes on the internet, is reproduced here by the gracious permission of the author, Mr. Derek Richardson. I also thank Mr. Keith Janes for his permission to print the article with annotations as it appeared in the Conscript Heroes website, by which I was made aware of this precious slice of history that is embodied in the flag possessed by St. Patrick’s Church.
This article written by Derek Richardson and published in ELMS Newsletter of Spring 2004 is reproduced here courtesy of the author with a few notes in square brackets added by the editor for the benefit of visitors to this site.
NEWS OF RICHARD PHILO
By Derek Richardson (0052)
Lancaster III No LM337 EA-
20 year old Stanley Philo from Barking in Essex, who spoke no French, headed south on foot, reaching the village of Senoches (Eure-
It did not work out like that, however. Philo left Senonches on 23 August and arrived four days later at a village about 5 kilometres north of Azay-
* Thanks to Oliver Glutton-
course no postal service between France and Britain except prisoner-
“Le 26 août 1943. Votre fils se trouvait sur la route X le lundi 23 août. Il était en bon sante, sain et sauf. Il se dirigeait vers X sur le chemin du retour avec des provisions pour quelques jours. J’ai l’espoir que cette letter arrivera á destination car c’est pour assure une mere sur le sort de sons fils que j’envoi cette letter.”
Translation: 26 August 1943. Your son was on the road to X on Monday 23 August. He was in good health, safe and sound. He was headed towards X on his return journey with provisions for a few days. I hope this letter reaches its destination for it is to reassure a mother about the fate of her son that I am sending this letter.
The envelope containing this letter was addressed to Mistress Stanley Philo, 90 Wedderburn Road, Barking, Essex, Angleterre, was stamped at the correct foreign letter rate of 4 francs and was postmarked COURBEVOIE SEINE AOUT 43. It was opened and resealed by both German and British censors. On both sides of the letter there are conspicuous vertical blue bands about 6 mm wide. These show where the German censor applied a chemical which would have detected the presence of anything written in invisible ink. Of course, the German censor should never have passed this letter for transmission in view of its revealing contents. We can only guess that he was touched by the sentiment of the final sentence and routed the letter through Red Cross channels.
After his return, Sergeant Philo joined 196 Squadron, Bomber Command. 1319259 WO Stanley James Verse Philo was killed in action on 3 April 1945.
W R Chorley, R.A.F. Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 4, Aircraft and Crew Losses, 1943 (HMSO)
Public Record Office (now National Archives) WO 208/3316 Report M.I.9/S/P.G. (-
Claude Jamet, “L’extraordinaire et mysterieuse odyssée d’une letter à travers les lignes” in L’Echo de la Timbrologie no. 1672, Amiens, February 1995. [A photocopy of this article, in which the censored envelope and the letter itself are illustrated, is held by the editor]
Following the initial posting of this article, I received a fuller version of Stanley Philo’s story, firstly from Andrew Worby, son of evader Jack Worby (Jack’s wife Kay was a friend of Stan’s and still is a friend of Stan’s sister Joan) and then from Stan Philo’s nephew, Tony Harris. Rather than the usual MI9 debrief, this is in the form of a Statement. Tony also sent me the covering letter that the Air Ministry sent to Stan’s mother in July 1945 which contains further details of Stan’s helpers. I have used this information to add the following detail to Stan’s escape story.
Although Stan [as Marcel Bernard] cycled the first few kilometres from Senoches, he then walked some 200 kms from Champrond-
According to the covering letter, Stan was then sheltered at (or near) Azay, by M Generchon at the Chateau la Bousee, by the Postmaster at Azay and by Mme Shields, widow of an American. Then there was Marie-
PS The reference to ELMS at the head of the article, and again in the footnote on page 6, I was informed by the editor, is explained at www.escapelines.com -
Editor’s Note: Bill’s poignant article moved me so much I determined that I would try and find out a little more about Stanley Philo’s family background and also how our valiant Barking hero died.
Stanley’s father, Joseph Stanley Philo, was born in Poplar on 20 May 1885. He died on 10 September 1967 and was buried, aged 82, in Rippleside Cemetery. Stanley’s mother, Mary Ann Crouch, was born on 8 July 1884. She died, aged 92, on 25 August 1976 and was also buried in Rippleside Cemetery (plot D 1530). His parents married in 1907 in Poplar. Their children, Stanley’s siblings, included Maud Alice Philo (born Poplar 1907); Doris Josephine Philo (born Poplar 1912); Joan Victoria Philo (born Barking 1919) and Stanley Joseph Philo (born Barking 1922).
Details of Stanley’s heroic death may be found on the internet at www.airmen.dk/rebildn.htm as follows. A Stirling MK IV LK 193 left Shepherd’s Grove Air Base, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, on 2 April 1945, at 22.30 hrs on operation SOE Tablejam 260, with containers to be dropped in Denmark for the Danish Resistance Movement. The aircraft crashed into the sea between Cromer and Sherringham, Norfolk, at 22.50 hrs. It is not known if the crash was due to a technical defect. The whole crew died, apart from Flight Sergeant Bennett, who succumbed to his terrible injuries on 2 June 1945. It is assumed the rest of the crew perished on 3 April 1945.
Stanley Philo’s name (unfortunately spelled Philow) appears on a bronze plaque on the Aviator Stone Memorial at Rebild, Denmark. Flowers are laid at the memorial on May 5, the day World War II ended in Denmark and on 4 July to mark the Rebild celebrations