Distinguised Conduct Medal, Serbian Cross of Karageorge
To the miners of the Chatterley Whitfield June the 28th 1914 was much the same as any other Sunday. Families will have either been to church or chapel or would go before the day was out. Some of them would be fishing or swimming in the local ponds, others would be walking in the surrounding lanes and fields.
Many men would be in the pubs while their wives, or mothers prepared the Sunday dinner. Children would be playing hopscotch or with their shotties in the streets. No one in this small bustling village, which was dominated by the colliery could possibly know that on a busy street in a far away land events were taking place that would profoundly affect all of their lives.
On this fateful day, while on an official visit to Sarajevo the capital city of the Austrian province of Bosnia. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne and his wife Sophie, were attacked and killed by members of the Slav nationalists group The Black Hand Society. One of the Societies members, a student by the name of Gavrilo Princip fired three shots at close range into the royal car. Fifteen minutes later the Duke and his wife were dead. These three shots started a series of events that would culminate in the death of millions in The First World War.
The people of Britain answered the government’s call to support the surpressed of Europe. It was especially important that Mineworkers produced as much coal as possible to help the war effort. However, some miners responded differently and went to war. George Phillips a miner from Chatterley Whitfield who lived in Smallthorne, decided to do his bit by enlisting in the North Staffordshire Regiment.
The Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel of the June 9th 1917 reported that George had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Serbian Cross of Karageorge (black George). This medal was introduced in 1915 for acts of conspicuous bravery by Non Comissioned Officers and soldiers in the field.
At a ceremony in Derby, General Sir John Maxwell made the presentation to George. The official Record said, “he bombed the enemy continuously for 31 hours, later he deliberately bombed the enemy from the open to draw off the enemy’s attention from another regiment. In doing so he showed great gallantry and determination”.
We would like to put on record our appreciation to George Phillips Junior who contacted us by email and sent us photographs of his father and his fathers medals. He stated “I was tremendously excited when I found your web site. I was aware of the citation for his DCM but to think that someone had taken the trouble to publish it was really something”.
Well George, we can assure you it was an honour and a privilege for us to use this web site to ensure your father’s bravery was not forgotten.
The People of Chatterley Whitfield – George Phillips