PRIVATE ROBERT SIDNEY PHILLIPS
23RD SEPTEMBER 1917 AGE 23
BURIED: YPRES RESERVOIR CEMETERY, BELGIUM
Soren Hawkes drew my attention to Private Phillips on her Twitter account, @sorenstudio. She published this document from Phillips' Australian Red Cross and Wounded Enquiry Bureau file:
Phillips R.S. 3098
Killed Sep. 25th 1917
Was in C. Coy., Lewis Machine Gunner. He was badly wounded in the legs and body during the hop over at Ypres. I saw him immediately after he was hit, his right leg was practically off. He later drew his revolver and blew his brains out. I did not see this happen. I don't know where he was buried.
Witness: - Sgt. W.S. Ward 1884, 49th Battn
Yet again I wonder how much information discovered by the Red Cross was passed on to the next-of-kin. Six months later another witness reported that he too had been told that Phillips had shot himself and the following month, April 1918 another witness gave a more graphic description:
I saw him after he was killed on September 25th at Passchendaele; he had been blown out of a shell hole and twisted like a cork screw. He crawled back into a shell hole and blew his head off with a rifle.
Rifle is probably more likely than revolver as only officers carried revolvers but whatever the weapon it appears that Phillips did kill himself. I wonder if his father knew. I rather hope not as Robert Phillips was a Roman Catholic, he said so on his attestation form, and to a Roman Catholic suicide is a mortal sin.