Monday, March 07, 2005
Sir (Uncle) Horace Phillips
Sir Horace Phillips, the former diplomat who has died aged 86, ended his career as ambassador to Turkey in the 1970s; he had earlier suffered an unexpected reverse, however, when the Saudi Arabians rejected him as British ambassador to Jeddah after learning that he was Jewish.
That Horace Hyman Phillips went as far as he did in the Diplomatic Service was a tribute to his innate talents and his determination. He was born on May 31 1917, the grandson of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. His father had a succession of jobs - commercial traveller, salesman, finance house manager - and died when Horace was 18, leaving his mother with seven children and no money.
Of those seven children, my dad's the youngest.
I only have one memory of him from when I was a child. He taught me the word reconnaissance. I also remember he was a noble man.
"When, in March 1968, King Faisal withdrew his agreement to my appointment as next British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia because I am a Jew, it was widely stated in the British press that I was an 'ex-Jew' or a 'non-practising Jew'. Some of this may have been inspired by official comment seeking to play down the embarrassment. As a serving diplomat, I could not myself reply. But the fact is that I have always been a practising Jew, and am to this day a member of Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow, where I was brought up in the tradition. Any statement to the contrary in an obituary would give great pain to my family and friends, and dishonour my memory in the Jewish community."
See also Bill Cameron's thoughts here
I noticed through Technorati that you had linked to my site and thank you for this.
The direct link to my post of 26MAR04 is here:
- this would save people having to hunt around to find it if they do me the honour of following the link from your blog.
Your link has, however, served also to remind me of someone who was evidently a very honourable man. You are lucky to have such a person in your family background. We were lucky to have him as a soldier and diplomat