An account of two families and their suffering and loss during WW1



An account of two families and their suffering and loss during WW1


The story is about: Lieutenant Charles Percy Phipps, 2nd Bucks Battalion; Major Constantine James (Jim) Phipps MC, DSO, Signal Coy, 2nd Division, King’s Liverpool Regiment; Captain Ivor Stewart-Liberty MC, 2nd/1st Bucks Battalion.


Extracts from a family album. Original letters and photographs maintained at the Bucks. County Archive in Aylesbury.


The story concerns two families united by marriage but also the loss they suffered in the First World War. They lived in the rural village of The Lee, Buckinghamshire. Canon Phipps, who was the father of Jim and Charles, was the Vicar of St. John’s at The Lee.
This account is drawn from the family collection of photographs and letters compiled by Fenella Tillier, of her great uncles, Charles and Jim Phipps and her grandfather Ivor Stewart-Liberty.

Ivor, brother-in-law to Jim and Charles Phipps, was the heir of Sir Arthur Liberty, who founded the eponymous retail business, Libertys, in Regent Street in London. Educated at Winchester and Oxford.

Charles was educated at Cornwallis School, Maidenhead and at Winchester. During an attack on German lines at The Battle of Fromelles, a bullet broke his leg. Rescued initially by Private Damant of Marlow, both were killed by machine gun fire during their attempt to regain the British lines on 19th July 1916. Charles is remembered on the Loos memorial, panels 83-85.

Jim was educated at Cornwallis School and Winchester. Jim saw service at Mons, where he was wounded in the foot, and at Givenchy, where he was wounded in the chest. Jim was mentioned in dispatches 3 times and was subsequently awarded the MC and DSO. Following attachment to the RE Jim died of influenza and pneumonia at Duren, near Cologne on 19th February 1919.

Ivor saw action at the Battle of Fromelles 20th-21st July 1916. This was an attack on the German front lines at a position near Aubers Ridge, devised as a plan to distract German troops from the Somme. He was wounded in the attack and having been rescued by his batman subsequently lost his leg as a result of his injuries. Ivor was awarded the MC in August 1916, and survived the war.

The original letters contained in this file can be found in the Bucks County Archives in Aylesbury.

The second attachment concerns a fascinating and moving account of Fenella’s visit to France in April 2010, as part of the making of the Channel 4 documentary “Finding the Lost Battalions.” The documentary covers the discovery and exhumation of mass graves resulting from the Battle of Fromelles, the identification of the missing through DNA sampling, and their reburial at the new CWG site at Pheasants Wood Cemetery. Fenella recounts her experience and her visit to the battle where her grandfather was injured.
She also visit the memorial to her uncle Charles Phipps at Loos. More background to this story can be found in the works of historian Peter Barton, who makes a significant contribution to the documentary.

Further background to the experience of The Lee in WW1 can be found in Mike Senior’s book “No Finer Courage, The Loss of an English Village.”




Mons, Givenchy, Fromelles, Duren (nr. Cologne.)


Fenella Tillier

Collection Day

The Lee, Bucks 23rd February 2019

This item was submitted on March 10, 2019