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Philip Game

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Title: Philip Game  
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Subject: Dudley de Chair, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, Governor of New South Wales, Harold Scott (police commissioner), Governors of New South Wales
Collection: 1876 Births, 1961 Deaths, British Army Personnel of the Second Boer War, British Army Personnel of World War I, Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis, Companions of the Distinguished Service Order, Governors of New South Wales, Graduates of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knights of Grace of the Order of St John, Officers of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Officiers of the Légion D'Honneur, People Educated at Charterhouse School, Royal Air Force Air Marshals, Royal Air Force Generals of World War I, Royal Artillery Officers
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Philip Game

Air Vice-Marshal
Sir Philip Game
Portrait of Game held by Government House.
26th Governor of New South Wales
In office
29 May 1930 – 15 January 1935
Monarch George V
Lieutenant Sir Philip Street
Preceded by Sir Dudley de Chair
Succeeded by Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven
14th Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
In office
1 November 1935 – 1 June 1945
Monarch George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Preceded by The Lord Trenchard
Succeeded by Sir Harold Scott
Personal details
Born (1876-03-20)20 March 1876
Streatham, Surrey, United Kingdom
Died 4 February 1961(1961-02-04) (aged 84)
Sevenoaks, Kent, United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Gwendolen Hughes-Gibb
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army (1893–18)
 Royal Air Force (1918–29)
Years of service 1893–1929
Rank Air Vice-Marshal
Unit Royal Artillery
46th Division
Royal Flying Corps
Commands AOC RAF India
Air Member for Personnel

Second Boer War
First World War

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (6)
Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy
Officer of the Legion of Honour

KCMG, DSO (30 March 1876 – 4 February 1961) was a British Royal Air Force commander, who later served as Governor of New South Wales and Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (London). Born in Surrey in 1876, Game was educated at Charterhouse School and entered the military at Royal Military Academy Woolwich, gaining his commission in 1895. Serving with the Royal Artillery, Game saw action in the Second Boer War and the First World War. After serving with distinction and bravery, Game transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in early 1916 serving as General Trenchard's chief staff officer. Finishing the War as an acting major-general, Game remained in the Royal Air Force after the close of hostilities. Notably he served as Air Officer Commanding RAF India and Air Member for Personnel. He retired from the military in 1929 having reached the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.

In March 1930, Game was appointed Governor of New South Wales, serving during a time of political instability and coming into conflict with the NSW Labor Government over attempts to abolish the New South Wales Legislative Council. Game dismissed the Government of Premier Jack Lang in May 1932 following illegal activity by Lang. Ending his term in January 1935, Game returned to Britain and was appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London. He held it during the tumultuous 1930s, the 1936 abdication crisis and the Second World War, before retiring at the end of the war in 1945.[1] Between 1937 and 1949 he resided at Langham House, Ham Common, Surrey and was Vicar's Warden at St. Andrews church.[2] Retiring with his wife Gwendoline to his home in Kent, Game died in February 1961, aged 84.[1]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Governor of New South Wales 2
    • Legislative Council abolition 2.1
    • Harbour Bridge opening 2.2
    • Dismissal 2.3
    • End of term 2.4
  • Metropolitan Police Commissioner 3
  • Titles, styles and honours 4
    • Titles 4.1
    • Honours 4.2
  • References 5

Early life and career

Game was born in Broadway, Worcestershire, and his wife Clara Vincent. Before entering the army, he was educated at Charterhouse School. Following officer training at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich, Game was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 2 November 1895 into the Royal Artillery. Promoted to lieutenant on 2 November 1898 and further promoted to captain on 20 June 1901, he served in the Second Boer War and was Mentioned in Despatches. As a young artillery captain he was made officer in charge of the gun carriage bearing the coffin of Queen Victoria at her funeral in 1901.[3] Following brief postings in India and Ireland, Game attended the Staff College, Camberley in 1910 and was posted as a General Service Officer (GSO) at the War Office. He later won the Royal United Services Institute Gold Medal Essay. On 11 August 1908 he married Gwendolen Hughes-Gibb, the daughter of Francis Hughes-Gibb of Dorset, and was promoted as a major on 15 February 1912.[3]

Following the outbreak of the air vice-marshal and appointed Air Officer Commanding RAF India. The next year he took up the post of Air Member for Personnel and was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) a year later.[6] Game retired suddenly on 1 January 1929, at the age of 52, allegedly owing to the rumours of his being appointed Chief of the Air Staff.[7][8] On 1 March 1929 he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in the military division (GBE).[9]

Governor of New South Wales

At the height of the Great Depression, Game was appointed Venerable Order of St John (KStJ).[11] At the October 1930 State elections the Bavin Nationalist Government was defeated and the Labor Party leader, Jack Lang, became Premier.[8]

Legislative Council abolition

Lang’s previous term of office from 1925 to 1927 had brought him into conflict with Game’s predecessor, Sir Dudley de Chair, over the proposed appointment of additional members to the Legislative Council, in order to enable the abolition of the house, using the same techniques used to abolish the Queensland Legislative Council in 1922. His inability to gain control in the Upper House obstructed Lang’s legislative programme and in November 1930, claiming a mandate to abolish the Council, Lang's Labor MLCs put forward two bills, one to repeal section 7A of the NSW Constitution (which prevented the abolition of the Council without a referendum), the other to abolish the Council. Lang requested the necessary additional appointments to pass the legislation from Game. However, these requests were met with Game’s refusal.[1]

Premier Jack Lang. Throughout the Legislative Council dispute and the events leading to his dismissal, Lang and Game maintained a cordial relationship.

Believing that a referendum was necessary before the bills could become law, the Legislative Council permitted the bills to pass without a division on 10 December. Lang then announced his intention of presenting the bills for Game's Royal assent without a referendum. The following day, two members of the Legislative Council, Thomas Playfair and Arthur Trethowan, applied for and were granted an injunction preventing the President of the Council, Sir John Peden, and the ministers from presenting the bills to the Governor without having held a referendum. On 23 December the Supreme Court of New South Wales in the case of Trethowan v. Peden, upheld the injunction and ordered the government not to present for royal assent, unless ratified by the electors in a referendum, bills to abolish the council.[12] Lang immediately prepared an appeal to the High Court of Australia. In the case of Attorney-General (New South Wales) v. Trethowan, the appeal was rejected by a majority of the court. Lang then appealed this decision to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. The Privy Council then delayed the appeal until April 1932.[13]

Reflecting his status as a representative of the British Government, Game at all times informed the Dominions Office of political developments. In hard financial times, NSW soon came into conflict with the federal government as Lang’s unorthodox financial policy opposed the economic orthodoxy advocated by Sir Otto Niemeyer, who was the main financial advisor to the Federal Scullin Labor Government and later the Lyons United Australia Party Government. In July 1931, in a personal contribution towards economic recovery, Game notified Treasury to make a 25% deduction from his own monthly salary.[1]

Lang's Government soon introduced legislation to cope with the economic problems the state was facing. Its first move was the Reduction of Interest Bill, which was intended to default on payments of overseas debts to British bondholders in an attempt to negotiate the interest rate. The Legislative Council prevented passage on 26 March 1931 by resolving that the bill be read again in six months time. Lang again asked for additional members to force his legislation through. Game, aware of the weight of opinion in the MacDonald Government in London, the Scullin Government in Canberra, and Sydney against the Lang administration's financial policies, refused. On 28 March the Federal Labor Party expelled the New South Wales Labor Party for its opposition to the financial policy of the Federal government. Despite various petitions and demands that he dismiss Lang, Game declined to act. Game later informed the Dominions Secretary, James Henry Thomas, on 29 March 1931 that he was not convinced that Lang would lose an election at this time.[13]

In March and June 1931 Lang repeatedly requested the necessary 80 appointments to swamp the council and prevent obstruction to his legislation. Game again refused, offering 21 appointments, which were enough to pass some of the legislation but not the most controversial bills, including the bill to default on debts.[13] Finally, in a compromise move with Lang, on 19 November 1931 Game assented to 25 appointments, reasoning that it would not be possible to refuse Lang's requests until the Privy Council case was resolved. His telegram to the Dominions Secretary the next day explained further: "I foresee if I refuse now I shall most probably be placed in position before long where...I should not be able to stop at twenty five but should have sooner or later to give sufficient appointments to carry rejected legislation. Such numbers might give Government a permanent majority to carry any and every extreme measure, and extreme factions would probably gain ascendancy owing to what they would represent as my obstinate partiality. Should I refuse appointments until appeal case is heard and should it result in abolition extremists would be in an even stronger position. After reviewing all arguments and considering possibilities I have reached conclusion that my proper and wiser course is to accept advice and have done so."[14]

Ribbon ceremony to open the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932. Premier Lang cuts the ribbon while Game looks on.

During this Game questioned the result if Lang won the appeal to the Privy Council and the Legislative Council was abolished. Various correspondence between him and London confirms that had Lang succeeded, Game may have refused assent to the abolition bills, thereby making it the first time it had been withheld since 1708. This potential situation disappeared, however, with the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on 31 May 1932. The judgment dismissed the appeal by the Government of New South Wales. The bills repealing Section 7A and abolishing the Legislative Council could not therefore be presented to the Governor for assent until they had been passed in a referendum.[13] Faced with other problems, Lang's plans for abolition ultimately failed. His successor as Premier, Bertram Stevens, later passed major reforms to replace the appointed Legislative Council, by a Council elected by the whole parliament to terms equivalent to four Assembly terms. This was passed by referendum in 1933.

Harbour Bridge opening

In March 1932, in anticipation of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, when Lang decided that he would cut the ribbon and incurred the displeasure of the King, Game reassured the King that Lang had the right to cut the ribbon. Game and his family found much amusement in the controversy thrown up over the matter and the question of whether Game, as Governor, should have a 17-gun salute. The far-right New Guard were nevertheless enraged over Lang's decision, culminating in Francis de Groot's pre-ceremony cutting of the ribbon. The ribbon was hastily reattached and on 19 March 1932, Lang opened the bridge with Game looking on, and he later gave a speech commemorating the occasion.[8]


When the United Australia Party Government of Joseph Lyons came to power in January 1932, it passed the Financial Agreement Enforcement Act, thereby forcing the NSW government to adhere to its debt commitments and to cut government spending. Lang appealed the decision to the High Court. When the court ruled that the law was valid, Lang ordered Treasury officials to withdraw all the state's funds from government bank accounts so that the federal government could not gain access to the money. Game advised Lang that in his view this action was illegal, and that if Lang did not reverse it he would dismiss the government. Lang stood firm, and issued a leaflet in defiance of Game. Game then reluctantly decided to exercise his reserve powers and called Lang to Government House to dismiss him. However, Lang was not the first to hear of his dismissal. The pianist Isador Goodman, who had been befriended by Sir Philip and Lady Game, was at Government House for dinner that night. There were a number of interruptions, and Goodman asked if he perhaps ought to leave. Game replied, "No, that's not necessary. You see, I am about to dismiss the Premier."[15]

Sir Philip and Lady Game are farewelled by Premier Stevens upon their departure on 15 January 1935.

On 13 May 1932 Game dismissed Lang's government and appointed the UAP leader, Bertram Stevens, as Premier. Stevens formed a coalition with Michael Bruxner's Country Party and immediately called an election, at which Lang's NSW Labor Party was heavily defeated. This was the first case of an Australian government with the confidence of the lower house of Parliament being dismissed by a vice-regal representative, the second case being when Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed Gough Whitlam's government on 11 November 1975. Game himself felt his decision was the right one, despite his personal liking of Lang. He wrote to his mother-in-law on 2 July 1932: "Still with all his faults of omission and commission I had and still have a personal liking for Lang and a great deal of sympathy for his ideals and I did not at all relish being forced to dismiss him. But I felt faced with the alternative of doing so or reducing the job of Governor all over the Empire to a farce."[16] Lang himself, despite objecting to his dismissal, conceded that he too liked Game, regarding him as fair and polite, and having had good relations with him.[17]

End of term

During his governorship Game was the patron of several organisations including the District and Bush Nursing Associations and the

Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Brooke-Popham
Chief of Staff, Royal Flying Corps in the Field
19 March – 16 October 1916
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Mark Kerr
General Officer Commanding South-Western Area
14 October 1918 – 31 March 1919
Succeeded by
Charles Longcroft
Preceded by
Tom Webb-Bowen
Air Officer Commanding RAF India
1922 – 1923
Succeeded by
Edward Ellington
Preceded by
Sir Oliver Swann
Air Member for Personnel
1923 – 1929
Succeeded by
Sir John Salmond
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Dudley de Chair
Governor of New South Wales
1930 – 1935
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven
Police appointments
Preceded by
The Lord Trenchard
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
1935 – 1945
Succeeded by
Sir Harold Scott
  1. ^ a b c d "Game, Sir Philip Woolcott (1876–1961)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Fison, Vanessa (2009). The Matchless Vale: the story of Ham and Petersham and their people. Ham and Petersham Association. p. 42.  
  3. ^ a b c d e "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30096. p. 5200. 26 May 1917. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  5. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30431. p. 13206. 14 December 1917. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  6. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31098. p. 91. 1 January 1919. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33453. p. 72. 1 January 1929. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e Clune, David; Turner, Ken (2009). The Governors of New South Wales: 1788–2010. Sydney: Federation Press. pg 473–495. 
  9. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33472. p. 1440. 1 March 1929. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33593. p. 2061. 28 March 1929. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  11. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 33618. p. 3956. 30 June 1930. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Street, Sir Philip Whistler (1863–1938)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d A. S. Morrison (1984), "Dominions Office Correspondence on the New South Wales Constitutional Crisis 1930–1932", London, University of London (PhD thesis).
  14. ^ Telegram to Dominions Secretary James Thomas from Governor Game, 20 November 1931.
  15. ^ Virginia Goodman, Isador Goodman: A Life in Music (1983)
  16. ^ Letter by Sir P Game to Mrs Eleanor Hughes-Gibb, 2.7.1932, ML MSS 2166/5.
  17. ^ Foot, B (1968). Dismissal of a Premier – The Sir Philip Game Papers. Sydney: Morgan Publications. pg 190. 
  18. ^ a b Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, KCMG, 11 May 1937,, Citation: Gov NSW.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34166. p. 3597. 3 June 1935. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  20. ^ "Sir Phillip Game Reserve". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW.  
  21. ^ "Sir Philip Game". The Sydney Morning Herald 7 March 1936 pg 16. Australian National Library. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  22. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34396. p. 3084. 11 May 1937. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  23. ^ a b "History of the Metropolitan Police (1930–1949)". Metropolitan Police. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  24. ^ "The Sir Philip Game Centre – a brief history". Sir Philip Game Centre. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  25. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37064. p. 2351. 2 May 1945. Retrieved 24 July 2010.


Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) 1945[25]
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) 1924[6]
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) 1919
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) 1937[22]
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) 1929[9]
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) 1935[18]
Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1915
Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) 1929[11]
Queen's South Africa Medal
1914–15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches
King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953
Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy 1917[4]
Officer of the Legion of Honour 1917[5]
Sir Philip Game in 1930 wearing his 1920 pattern RAF Full Dress uniform.


  • 30 March 1876 – 2 November 1895: Philip Game, Esq
  • 2 November 1895 – 2 November 1898: 2nd Lieutenant Philip Game
  • 2 November 1898 – 20 June 1901: Lieutenant Philip Game
  • 20 June 1901 – 15 February 1912: Captain Philip Game
  • 15 February 1912 – 23 June 1915: Major Philip Game
  • 23 June 1915 – 18 July 1915: Major Philip Game DSO
  • 18 July 1915 – 20 May 1917: Lieutenant Colonel Philip Game DSO
  • 20 May 1917 – 16 October 1916: Colonel Philip Game DSO
  • 16 October 1916 – 1 April 1918: Brevet Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) Philip Game DSO
  • 1 April 1918 – 14 October 1918: Brevet Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) Philip Game DSO, RAF
  • 14 October 1918 – 1 January 1919: Brevet Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) Philip Game CB, DSO, RAF
  • 1 January 1919 – 31 March 1919: Colonel (Acting Major-General) Philip Game CB, DSO, RAF
  • 31 March 1919 – 1 August 1919: Colonel (Acting Brigadier-General) Philip Game CB, DSO, RAF
  • 1 August 1919 – 1 January 1922: Air Commodore Philip Game CB, DSO, RAF
  • 1 January 1922 – 3 June 1924: Air Vice-Marshal Philip Game CB, DSO, RAF
  • 3 June 1924 – 1 January 1929: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game KCB, DSO, RAF
  • 1 January 1929 – 29 May 1930: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBE, KCB, DSO
  • 29 May 1930 – 15 January 1935: His Excellency Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBE, KCB, DSO, Governor of New South Wales
  • 15 January 1935 – 3 June 1935: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBE, KCB, DSO
  • 3 June 1935 – 1 November 1935: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBE, KCB, KCMG, DSO
  • 1 November 1935 – 11 May 1937: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBE, KCB, KCMG, DSO, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
  • 11 May 1937 – 2 May 1945: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GCVO, GBE, KCB, KCMG, DSO, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
  • 2 May 1945 – 1 June 1945: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GCB, GCVO, GBE, KCMG, DSO, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
  • 1 June 1945 – 4 February 1961: Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GCB, GCVO, GBE, KCMG, DSO


Viceregal styles of
Sir Philip Game
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Sir

Titles, styles and honours

He died at his home, Blackenhall, Sevenoaks, Kent, on 4 February 1961, survived by his wife, daughter and by his elder son, who had married Vera Blackburn, daughter of Sir Charles Blackburn. His second son had been killed in action at Taranto, Italy, in 1943.[8]

Towards the end of his time as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Game worked to establish a boys' club. The Sir Philip Game Boys' Club, situated in Croydon, was opened in 1946. The Club was officially opened on 19 July 1947 by the then Home Secretary, James Chuter Ede, in the presence of Game. New premises were built and completed in 1964 and were officially opened on 8 May 1966 by the then Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice, in the presence of Lady Game, who unveiled a plaque in the memory of her husband.[24] Game was the last senior armed forces officer to be appointed Metropolitan Police Commissioner: with the exception of his immediate successor, a senior civil servant, all successive commissioners have been career police officers. Game was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) on 2 May 1945 and retired soon after on 1 June 1945.[8][25]

[23] saying, "they are no doubt warmer, and look nicer than a tweed coat, but a live dog is better than a dead lion."Ecclesiastes In 1943, in an attempt to prevent burglaries, Game urged householders not to keep furs, adapting a verse from Chapter 9 of [23] Upon his return to Britain, Game served as

Commissioner Game (left) with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at Euston Station on the eve of their departure for Australia in 1945.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner

[21] before being presented to Government House.National Art Gallery of New South Wales. It was then displayed at the R.G. Eves In memory of Game's time as Governor, a portrait was commissioned by public subscription and painted by [20] as Lady Game Drive and a nearby park as Sir Phillip Game Reserve.Lindfield named a major road in Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council In honour of their service to the state, [19][18]

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