Richard was born in Sydenham in the Lewisham borough of London in 1896. His father was William Phillips, a general labourer, born in Paddington, and his mother Louisa was born in Devon. In 1901 Richard, aged four, had a brother William, aged 10, a sister Annie, 2 and brother Rees, 1. All of the children had been born in Sydenham. The family were living in Relinque Road, Lewisham. At the time Ritchie was born there was a Welsh family living nearby, the Bather family. John Bather was from Brecon and his wife Annie from Tredegar; John was a gas fitter and before marrying had worked in the Rhondda. As a boy he lived in Free Street in Brecon. They had been living in 38, Stanton Square, Kent Lane, Lewisham in 1891 and had moved to 4, Florence Villas, Lewisham by 1901. It is assumed the families became friends. By 1911 Ritchie's father William had died and Louisa, a widow, was head of the Phillips household living at 1, Stanton Place, Kent Lane, Lewisham. With her are sons William and Rees, as well as boarders Frederick John Bather, 25 and Benjamin Morris Bather, 24, sons of John Bather and both also gas workers.
Private Charles Richard George Phillips
1st Brecknock Btn., South Wales Borderers, service no.
Died of illnesses contracted on active service, April 24th,
1920, aged 23
Buried in Brecon Cemetery
running a pub; John and the other children were still at school.
On the 14th May 1913 at the age of fourteen, recorded as a schoolboy and under age, John enlisted in the Royal Marines in Gosport and joined HMS Invincible as a bugler on August 3rd, 1914.
On the 31st May 1916 he was killed in action when the ship was blown up and sank in the Battle of Jutland, and consequently his body was not recovered. John had just turned seventeen.
HMS Invincible, built in 1907 was a battlecruiser attached to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet at the end of 1908. She took part in the Battle of Jutland, where she blew up and sank after taking a hit from the German ship SMS Lützow, with the loss of 1,026 crew. Only six crew members survived.
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought by the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe against the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer. The battle was fought from 31 May to 1 June 1916 in the North Sea, near the coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war.