Phillips was the Commander of Force Z which was sunk off Malaya in the first days of the war against Japan. In July of 1941 CHURCHILL decided to cut off oil supplies to Japan and to provide a deterrent force in the area. Rather than send a large fleet he sent the Prince of Wales, which was a new-style battleship, and the Repulse. Phillips arrived in Singapore on 3 December to take command and set off on 8 December to attack a large Japanese convoy which had been reported unloading at Singora and Kota Bahru. Phillips had no aircraft carrier and no air support from land bases. On 9 December the weather cleared and Force Z was spotted by Japanese planes. Phillips turned south to return to port but then turned toward Kuantan when he received reports (which turned out to be false) of a Japanese landing there. Force Z was attacked by the Japanese elite 22nd Air Flotilla on the morning of 10 December and the Prince of Wales and the Repulse were both sunk by midday. Most of the men were rescued but Admiral Phillips was one of those lost.