|Ian Michell 1927-1945
Ian Michell - Air Training Corps
Ian with his parents
Ian Victor Michell was born in 1927, son of Victor and Mary (Margery ) Michell. Victor's parents had moved the family down to Colchester from Boston in 1906, and then to Mersea in Melrose Road in 1908.
Victor and Margery with Ian were living at Pantile Cottage, Firs Chase in 1945.
Life on the Island for boys of Ian's age was an adventure in the first years of the War. Going to school in Colchester was optional because of the danger from machine gun attacks and bombs, and they were too young to go into the Services. With aircraft fighting overhead, using Bradwell Bay airfield, and sometimes crashing in the area, they became experts on the types of plane.
Hours were spent scouring the marshes and fields for debris.
Ian's parents were regulars at the Sailing and Social Club, run by Winifred Hone (now the Coast Inn). Winifred takes up the story in her memoirs:
Ian was such a likable and learned boy. In his late teens he used to make model planes and was so anxious to join the RAF but he was too young. He did the next best thing and joined the Air Training Corp in Colchester which necessitated him cycling every night to Colchester. Mr Edward Paxman [a regular at the Sailing and Social Club] was so impressed with Ian's engineering efforts that he wanted to take him under his own wing at Paxman's works but Ian's mother, an intelligent person but filled with stupidity over his safety as bombs were falling in Colchester too often for comfort, refused to allow him to go. He was handy with a gun and food was short. He was out shooting for rabbits with a friend [ Vincent Magson ] and stepped on a mine on the beach.
Ian's parents never recovered from the tragedy.
Mersea Lads Killed in Beach Minefield.
Boy thought he knew paths
A tragedy at West Mersea, in which two lads, Ian Victor Michell (17) of Pantile Cottage, Firs Chase, and Vincent John Magson
(16) of Rainbow Road were killed instantly by a beach mine on March 8th.
Michell was the son of Mr H.V. Michell, engineer. Magson was adopted son of Mr Frederick William Magson, a retired Naval pensioner.
"Explosions often heard"
Jack Leonard Harvey, sewage egineer, of 3 Council Houses, Barfield Road, West Mersea, said that he saw the boys about 3pm going towards the beach with their
guns. About half an hour later he heard an explosion like that of a beach mine about a mile away in the direction
of East Mersea. He paid little attention to it as these explosions were frequently heard. Early next morning the parents reported
to the Police that the boys had not returned and Sgt. Wood and Reserve Sgt. Dawson set out to search with Mr Harvey.
At 12.40 pm on Friday they found the two bodies in a mine-field about a quarter of a mile west of Kiddiesland pavilion.
"Been in mine fields before"
Mrs Michell said her son had told her that he had been in the mine fields before, and she had begged him not to go there.
He replied that he knew the paths and he would be safe. Mr Magson said his boy had never said anything to him about mine-fields,
but had warned him (Mr Magson), about the danger of crossing the beach.
"No-one to Blame"
The Deputy Coroner returned a verdict of accidental death and said that in neither case were the parents to blame,
nor the military authorities. He commented what a curious thing it was that lads would recklessly run risks for the sake
of a rabbit, but added that it was difficult for older folks to appreciate the feelings of youngsters who would not be
the boys they were if they always did as they were directed.
A joint funeral was held for the two boys in West Mersea Parish Church on March 14th, and they were buried close to each other in Firs Road Cemetery.
Nice families by Winifred Hone - Soward and Michell
Michell Family on Mersea - Nicholas Hamilton-Peters