Annie Phillips

(1900-1984) – Autograph collector

Annie Phillips, a teenager from Tregrehan Mills, kept an autograph book during the war. It was signed by many school friends as well as soldiers and sailors who filled the pages with watercolours and drawings. These included British bulldogs, Tsar Nicholas II and even a cats' chorus singing 'Are we Down-hearted? NO!'.

Credit: St Austell Town Museum

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Annie was the second child of Thomas Phillips and Ann (née Bone) former cook for the Carlyon family at Tregrehan House.  She was born on 10 November 1900.  The family lived on a small holding adjacent to Boscoppa School, which Annie attended.  She particularly loved nature study and art classes there.

Village life centred around the Methodist chapel services and celebrations.  All the village children attended the Sunday school, and chapel friendship forged strong bonds.  As a young woman Annie circulated her new autograph book among her village friends, and classmates further afield.

The book has many entries for 1916; one of the most remarkable is a water colour painting of Tsar Nicholas II.  The facing page has the verse:

                  ‘Oh Russia, do we forget thee

                  When the Blood is running free

                  To save France and England

                  From the Hand of Germany:    

                  In memory of the Great European War by Dolor Harris. Later killed in France’.

It also includes an exquisitely painted watermill, by Dolor’s mother, and an amusing cartoon, entitled

‘Outwhiskered’ , of an English Tommy coming face to face with a formidable Indian cavalry officer. 

A later page shows a pen and ink sketch of a wattle bush with the following lines underneath:

‘Greetings from the land of the Wattle … Give me the life, full of fun/ Far, far from  the horrors of the hun/ Away from the smashing shell of the guns…’ There are also depictions of two British Bulldogs, featuring guns and cannon, which portray the frightening reality of the First World War.

The pages of the autograph book were executed with much precision and care and, accompanied by patriotic verse, unravel a part of a young girl’s village life during the First World War.

Key words: children

Credit: St Austell Town Museum