On the West wall inside the church of St Marys, Portsea.
CHARLES MICHAEL ROBERTS PHILLIPS
ENGINE ROOM ARTIFICER HMS MALABAR WHO IN
THE PRIME OF HIS LIFE AND YOUTH NEAR KARACHI
WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY DIED BY
SWIFT AND SUDDEN MISADVENTURE JAN 27TH 1893
THIS TABLET HAS BEEN RAISED WITH SORROW
AND REGARD BY CAPTAIN GJ JONES,THE OFFICERS
AND CREW OF HIS SHIP
An account of the death of Charles Phillips is to be found in the Hampshire Telegraph dated 18 February 1893.
"A melancholy accident happened on board the Indian troopship Malabar, on the evening of Friday, the 27th ultimo, barely an hour after the ship had left Karachi for England. A young engine-room artificer named Charles Phillips, was on duty in the engine room, and it is supposed that he was handling the low-pressure crank brasses when he slipped, overbalanced himself, and fell over the guard rail. Before he could recover himself he was struck a terrible blow on the head by the revolving crank and thrown into the crank pit below. Directly the accident was discovered Fleet-Surgeon Alfred Corrie, medical officer of the ship, was summoned, the engines were stopped, and the unfortunate man was taken out of the pit. It was then found that the blow from the revolving crank had crushed in his skull and that he had been instantly killed. Phillips was buried at sea on the following afternoon amidst every mark of sympathy and respect, all the officers of the ship attending the funeral in full funeral dress. The deceased had been only about two years in the Service, and was much liked by all his shipmates in the Malabar. He was the only son of the late Lieut. M Phillips, R.N., and when at home lived at Hughenden House, 40 Fratton-road, the residence of his widowed mother, for whom much sympathy was felt."
HMS Malabar was an iron troopship of some 6,211 tons displacement. She was one of the Euphrates Class, five ships built to be run by the Indian Government, manned by the Royal Navy. Her sisters were Jumna, Crocodile, Serapis and Euphrates. They each had the Star of India on their bows, yellow funnels and white hull but were distinguishable by different colour hull bands, black for Malabar. She was launched by Robert Napier and Sons, Govan, No 120, on the 8 December 1865. The ships sailed from Portsmouth, mainly to India.
She had sailed from Karachi at 4 PM on Fri 27th January 1893. The Log apparently reports " 5.50. Stopped engines and proceeded. Charles M R Phillips was killed whilst on duty in the Engine Room. He fell into the crank pit and received compound fractures of the skull which was the cause of his death"
He was buried at sea the next day at 5.5 PM.
The Malabar arrived in Portsmouth on 2nd May. (Hampshire Telegraph, Saturday 6 May)
According to his Service Record Charles Michael Robert Phillips, no. 159389, was born on 11 November 1869 in Portsmouth and joined the Royal Navy on 16 March 1896 for 12 years. He was 5ft 4 and a half inches tall, with dark hair, dark brown eyes and a sallow complexion. By trade he was a Fitter and Turner.
He joined HMS Asia 16 March 1891 and left on 31 May 1891 with Very Good Character to join HMS Malabar on 1 June 1891. He was an Acting ERA 4th Class, and was promoted to ERA 4th Class on 21 March 1892.
On 27 January 1893 the record shows he was 'D. D.' which means 'discharged dead' "on board HMS Malabar from fractured skull caused through falling into the crank pit probably after being struck on the head by the crank while attending to the machinery".
Although the newspaper article states that his father was a Lieutenant, he was a Carpenter. He appears as a Naval Officer in the Service Records downloadable from the National Archives. His service record moves from the 'NonCS Ledger' (non continuous service) around 1855 where he is given as Seaman and Petty Officer. He appears to go through the ranks as Carpenter to Chief Carpenter by 1879, mainly on HMS Asia with a few years on HMS Minotaur. He left for Pension on 24 December 1887. He had served, in all, 32 years and 293 days. His Seniority as a Warrant Officer dated from 17 September 1855.
Michael Phillips appears to have married Caroline Sophia Watson in the September quarter of 1859, registered at Portsea. In fact the marriage took place at St Mary's Church on 17 September 1859.
It was at St Mary's that Charles Michael Robert Phillip (sic) was baptised on 23 January 1870. Parents were Michael Phillip and Caroline Sophia. His birth was registered in Portsmouth in the December quarter 1869, Portsea.
In 1871 Michael Phillips and his family are found at 100 Fratton Road, Portsea. He is shown to be a Carpenter 1st Class Royal Navy, aged 38, born in Morice Town, Devonport, and Caroline S, his wife, aged 37 and born in Portsea. They have four daughters and then the one son, Charles M R given as aged 1.
In 1881 the family are recorded as living at 40 Fratton Road. Charles M is aged 11.
In 1891 Charles is at 40 Fratton Road with his widowed mother. He is an Engine Room Artificer RN. Perhaps he was at home on compassionate leave, as his father had died on 23 March, just prior to the census which took place on 5 April.
In 1901 Caroline has moved to 31 Jessie Road. She died later that same year, aged 67.
[Research: Patricia Lovell]