Topic: Henry Phillips (1883-1918)

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With his parents too poor to care them, Henry Phillips and his two brothers were sent to the Caversham Industrial School. Henry would later become a photographer, owning the Alma Studio. He was killed in action in France on 9 May 1918 whilst serving during World War I. Story by Debbie McCauley.

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Henry Phillips was born in Dunedin on 30 October 1883 (no birth registration yet found). His parents were William Thomas and Hughina Phillips (nee McMillan) for whom no marriage record has yet been found. The ship 'Regina' which arrived in New Zealand on 4 December 1859 records a Hughina McMillian, aged 11, arriving with her parents and sisters.

On 24 February 1894 the Otago Daily Times reported on some ‘Mischievous Boys’. These were Henry and his older brother Edward Arthur Phillips (1882-1966) who had been caught stoning ducks in the Water of Leith. Edward, aged 12, pleaded guilty and was fined 5 shillings plus 5 shillings costs. Henry, aged 11, pleaded not guilty and was not fined. The bench warned both boys they were liable to six months imprisonment, and that next time they would be sent to gaol without the option of a fine.

A month later the boys were back in court along with brother Alfred Mark Phillips (1882-1929). Due to their poor circumstances, the boy's parents had been unable to pay the fine for stoning the ducks and were no longer able to care for the boys. They boys were sent to the Caversham Industrial School (1869-1927) under the Industrial Schools Act to be brought up in the Church of England religion.

Edward was eventually apprenticed to Dunedin photographers, Burton Bros, and later set up his own business, Phillips and Lee. After the partnership dissolved in c1905 Henry went into business with Edward and they became known as Phillips Bros Photographers.

In around June 1908 Henry seems to have set up on his own, as the Alma Studio in Otautau, which ran for around six months before relocating to Invercargill. Things didn't go well in Invercargill however, as reported in the Otago Witness on 2 January 1908. A month after setting up the studio, a fire in the block of buildings in Dee Street gutted Henry's studio along with some other businesses. The fire was said to have started from fire ashes in Henry's living room having been blown out of the grate. Luckily Henry was insured. He reopened the business in Neil’s buildings on the corner of Dee and Spey Streets, Invercargill, just over a year later as advertised in the Otautau Standard on 23 May 1909. His new studio had eleven rooms was just two blocks away from his brother Edward's studio.

On 5 of August 1912, Henry placed an advertisement in the Bruce Herald stating that H. Phillips, late of Phillips Bros., had opened a studio in Milton. In September 1912, the Herald reported that Henry had received an offer to join an expedition seeking gold from the wreck of the General Grant on Auckland Island. Whether he went is unknown.

Henry was a photographer in Main Street, Gore, on 29 March 1917 when he enlisted to fight during World War I. His next of kin was given as his brother, Alfred Mark Phillips (1882-1929), of Ngawaro, Rotorua. Alfred would later move to Tauranga and was buried in the Tauranga Anglican Cemetery when he died.

Henry served with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment (Service No. 56652) and the New Zealand Entrenching Battalion.

Private Henry Phillips was killed in action in France on 9 May 1918, aged around 37 (reg. 1918/85749). He is remembered on the Buttes New British Cemetery (NZ) Memorial in Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Henry Phillips (1883-1918)

Henry's parents were buried in Anderson's Bay Cemetery in Dunedin. Note: Hughina appears on the New Zealand Electoral Roll as a 'widow' from 1911 onwards so the date of the death of her husband is uncertain (she also appears in street directories as Hughina Annie Phillips).



Archives New Zealand: Military Personnel File.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Duthie, Donal (March 2015). The Life and Times of E.A. Phillips, Photographer (Postcard Pillar, Issue 106, pp. 11-16, New Zealand Postcard Society).

McLean, Heather (1997). Tauranga Anglican Cemetery: Headstones.

Papers Past.


A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC

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Henry Phillips (1883-1918)

Note:Service Number: 56652
First Names:Henry
Last Name:Phillips
Date of Birth:30 October 1883
Place of Birth:Dunedin
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:9 May 1918
Place of death:France
Place of burial:Buttes New British Cemetery (NZ) Memorial, Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Fathers name:William Thomas Phillips
Fathers date of birth:1852
Fathers place of birth:Longford, Tasmania, Australia
Fathers date of death:12 June 1924
Fathers place of death:Dunedin, New Zealand
Mothers name:Hughina McMillan
Mothers date of birth:17 September 1847
Mothers place of birth:Blaich, Argyllshire, Scotland
Mothers date of death:3 August 1923
Mothers place of death:Dunedin, New Zealand
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)

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