JACKSON, Philip Corfield
Regiment: 180 Sqn. Royal Air Force
Rank: Flying Officer / navigator
Died: 13 June 1943
Buried/ Memorial: Runnymede Memorial
Address: "Westcote", 8 Hoole Road, Hoole
Cheshire Observer 15 January 1944
- “JACKSON- missing since 13th June 1943, now presumed killed in action, Flying Officer Philip Corfield Jackson, RAFVR, husband of Margaret (nee Huxley) and son of Doctor A R Jackson and the late Mrs Jackson of Hoole, Chester.”
Jackson was navigator on a Type B-25 Mitchell II (serial FL677) out of RAF Foulsham, Norfolk, which was taking part in a raid on the Schelde shipyard and the Dornier aircraft wing factory at Flushing. His aircraft came under intense fire from Marine Flak Abteilung 810 and crashed into the Westernschelde at 09:17 hrs. The only body recovered was that of the pilot.
Dr Arthur Randell Jackson (1877-1944) is sometimes known as the “Father of British Arachnology” (the study of spiders and their relatives). He was born in Southport studied Zoology and then Medicine at Liverpool before setting up a practise originally in the Rhondda Valley and then Hexham but moving to Chester in 1905. He lived at "Westcote", now one half of the Bawn Lodge, the other half being "Eastcote" and at one time the home of another MB, Alexander George Hamilton. Described by compatriots as of rugged build both strong and tough Jackson could be cynical but kind and sensitive. As a GP he was noted for his accuracy in diagnosis. He described himself as a “….cyclist, spider hunter and bird watcher.” He was a distinguished amateur scientist and became an acknowledged expert on British spiders discovering 47 new species. He wrote a number of papers and books on the subject and won the Charles Kingsley Medal from the Chester Natural History Society for his work.
On the outbreak of the Great War he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was appointed a Captain and the Medical Officer of the 9th Seaforth Highlanders with whom he served in France and Flanders from March 1916 until the end of the War. This would have meant he was involved in the Battles of the Somme (Delville Wood, Le Transloy), Scarpe, 1st Passchendaele and Welsh Ridge. Then back to the Somme, followed by action on the Lys, at Outterseene Ridge, Courtrai and Ooteghem.
He was noted by his men for his jokes and stories as well as what some of them considered his eccentric habit of collecting natural history samples in the front line, including spiders which he sent back to the likes of Octavius Pickard-Cambridge (1828–1917) at Oxford. In late 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross for:
- "… conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty….in his efforts to get in casualties, repeatedly going forward through enemy barrages…" (Edinburgh Gazette March 11th 1918).
Following the Armistice A R Jackson continued to serve those wounded in the Great War. On his return to Hoole he became the visiting physician at Hoole Bank Red Cross Hospital. He is recorded as visiting three times a week from December 1918 to May 1919 when the records closed.
His first paper was published in 1899 (List of the Araneida of Port Erin and District. Proc. Liverp. Biol. Soc., 13, pp.66-68) and his last in 1938 (Notes on Arctic Spiders obtained in 1933-1936. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., (B) 107 (4), pp.543-551.). Many biographers state that he could have published more under his own name, but that he spent much of his time answering queries from others and helping them. Many textbooks and papers on spiders acknowledge his valuable assistance.
On his death in 1944 he donated his personal collection of around a hundred mid-eighteenth century drinking glasses to the Atkinson Museum, Southport in memory of his son who, as noted above, was killed with the RAF in WW2. This somewhat apt, as prior to "Westcote" being built it was the site of an earlier public house. He also donated prints by Whistler and a Rembrandt.
Observer 25 March 1944 carries the Obituary of Dr A R Jackson, which among other details tells us:
- "Dr Jackson began his practice in Hoole before the last War, in which he served with distinction as a Captain in the RAMC, attached to the Seaforth Highlanders, and was awarded the Military Cross."
His Obituary in Nature 153, page 613 (1944) reads:
- "WITH the death of Dr. A. Randall (sic) Jackson at his home in Chester on March 18 we lose our leading British systematic arachnologist. Despite a busy medical practice, he always found time to provide unstinted help to numerous correspondents in the identification of their collections of British and Arctic spiders, phalangids and chelonethids. This flair for diagnosis has never been surpassed. It enabled him both to straighten out the synonymic muddles created by other workers and also to add many species to the British list. Despite the constant pleadings of his friends, he published comparatively few papers and, as these were often in obscure journals, the excellence of his work never gained the wide recognition it deserved."