Tom Phillips was born in 1888. He entered the Royal Navy in 1903 and was appointed as assistant director of the plans division in 1932 and three years later was promoted to director.
Just before the outbreak of the Second World War Phillips was appointed vice chief of the naval staff. A man of strong opinions he constantly clashed with Winston Churchill. This included his opposition to Churchill's decision to divert forces from North Africa to Greece in 1940.
Phillips was promoted to admiral and given command of the Eastern Fleet and sent to support Allied forces in Singapore. After a meeting with General Douglas MacArthur, Phillips, decided to launch an offensive on reported Japanese landings at Kuantan.
At 11.30 am on 10th December 1941, the Prince of Wales and Repulse were attacked by 27 bombers of the Japanese Air Force. Twenty minutes later the first torpedo bombers arrived. Without air cover the two ships had little chance of surviving. The Repulse was sunk at 12.33 am and the Prince of Wales went down at 1.20 am. Tom Phillips and 839 British sailors were killed in the disaster.