Barn to be turned into First World War base

Barn to be turned into First World War base

A First World War pilot who buried his faithful fox terrier Mick in a cliff top wood, buried a jar, containing a 1919 penny, a letter and a photograph, at the woodland grave of his friend. The jar was found sticking out of the cliffs in 1988.

Thanks to the discovery, children will now be able to learn more about life during the First World War with the help of a £10,000 project investment and a biplane.

Later investigations showed that the jar was buried in 1927 and that Mick was owned by Percy Roberts and his brother Edgar.

When the war broke out, both Percy and Edgar joined the infantry. Edgar was later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916.

Mick accompanied him during his missions and they both survived the war. Percy died in 1918, in the trenches.

Over the years, Mick’s little grave was disturbed and the jar ended up on the beach, the Essex County Standard reports.

This tale was used by author Veronique Eckstein to write a children’s book called Mersea Mick. With the help of the Mersea Island Tales Educational Trust, Eckstein managed to secure a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to start a history project.

Children will this way have the opportunity to learn more about the First World War, as the 100th anniversary approaches. A barn in East Mersea is going to be transformed into a WWI small base and students are to be taught on an Edwardian farm.

When Veronique asked the Stow Maries Aerodrome museum if she could borrow a flag, she was instead offered a replica of a WWI truck and of a 1916 Sopwith Pup biplane.

David Body and Ian Draper volunteered to talk to the children about fledgling planes, while soldiers from Royal Engineers Army Reserve and 217 Field Squadron 33 Regiment, have planned metal detecting and other activities for the young students.

Another team of volunteers, selected by Marjorie Sansome, have created a tree of poppies.

Veronique also explained that of 320 men from Mersea who fought in the WWI, 50 never came back home and that this is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn about the lives of the 270 men who returned.

“Through Mick, we also encourage them to think about the role of animals in the war, the horses, donkeys and pigeons which died.”

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Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE