63542 Private Philip George Collier, Suffolk Regiment
Born on 9th December 1899 in Ashridge Park
Died on 15th June 1960 in Little Gaddesden
Philip George Collier was born in Ashridge Park, the youngest child of Richard Collier and Eliza née Rickard. He was baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Aldbury on 6th May 1900.
His sister Violet was born on 3rd October 1893 and his sister Dorothy Emma on 8th September 1896.
Philip’s family lived at 44 Ashridge Park, which is now part of Faerie Hollow. His father was a Farm Labourer.
On 26th February 1903, Philip Collier, an infant aged 3 years 2 months, entered Little Gaddesden School, where he stayed until he was 14. He left school from Standard 7 on 6th March 1914.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop 6
Philip joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop on 12th December 1912. He was a member of the Peewit Patrol, whose Patrol Leader Arthur Whitman was killed at St Julien on 31st July 1917. The Scouts met in the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple. Miss Bridget Talbot was their President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer. Their early exploits are recorded in the Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922.
Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Stanley Austin, Sidney Bellamy, Edward Bunn, Kenneth Edge, Gerald Green, Bernard Halsey, Percy Hobbs, Frank (Henry F.) Johnson, George Pinnock, Archie Wells, Frank Whitman and Jim Whitman.
A Week off School for the Scout Meeting 5
The Little Gaddesden School Log Book for 3rd July 1913 noted that 7 Boys had gone to the Boy Scouts Meeting at Birmingham, the headmaster adding ruefully “I believe they will be away the remainder of the week“. Three of the seven were Sidney Bellamy, Philip Collier and Arthur Pinnock. Other (unnamed) boys were absent haymaking. “These things stop the work of the School considerably.”
Military Service 7
Philip was 18 in December 1917 but could not have served overseas before June 1918, when an extension to the 1916 Military Service Act permitted overseas service for men aged 18½, rather than 19, if they had received at least 6 months’ training. The Autumn 1919 Absent Voters’ List confirms that Philip served as a Private in the Suffolk Regiment, Service Number 63542. However, he has no Medal Record, so probably did not serve overseas. His Service Record has not survived either, so the Absent Voters’ list is our only evidence of Philip’s Military Service.
An Addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour
The original, pre-Second World War, wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green read:
This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.
However, the Church Roll of Honour lists only 119 men; one of those omitted is Philip Collier, possibly because he was called up late in the War. His name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour. His cousins Victor Collier, Royal Horse Artillery, George Clifton, Royal Garrison Artillery and Percy Willmore, 1/9th Bn. Middlesex Regt. are named on both Rolls of Honour.
On 2nd December 1925 Philip George Collier married Ethel Wheatcroft at St Helen’s Church, Hemsworth, Yorkshire. 25 year old Philip was a Bricklayer’s Labourer of Ashridge Park, Little Gaddesden. Ethel, 32, was a Spinster of 24 Sandygate, Hemsworth and the daughter of Joseph Wheatcroft, Miner.
Philip and Ethel returned to Little Gaddesden, living with Philip’s parents at 44 Ashridge Park. His father Richard died in November 1926. However, Electoral Registers show Philip and Ethel stayed there with his mother Eliza until at least 1930.
By January 1937 when his mother died, they lived in Hudnall Lane. The 1939 Register lists them at 10 Council Cottages, now Chapel Close, Hudnall Lane. Philip was a Builder’s Labourer and Ethel had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”.
On 15th June 1960, Philip, still of Chapel Close, died aged 60 in St Paul’s Hospital, Hemel Hempstead. On 20th June 1960 he was buried in the new churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. However, his widow Ethel stayed in Chapel Close until her death aged 71 on 7th August 1964. She is buried with Philip.
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 & 1906 – 1934
6. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131
7. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden
11. Little Gaddesden Burial Register 1813 – 1980
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at email@example.com.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson