To mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, we are proud to share the story of one of our young OIs who lost his life during WWII. And to recognise his and many other OIs who sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of peace for Great Britain and the world.
OI Philip Russell Pells, Second Lieutenant of the Royal Armoured Corps, died of his wounds aged 20 on 25th July 1944.
Following the Normandy Landings, his Regiment took part in Operation Goodwood, the attempted break out through Caen. After initial successes, the assault was rebuffed by superior German Forces and large casualties were suffered.
The most poignant memory of Philip was provided by his childhood sweetheart, Pat Wootton in April 2017 which reads:
“I first met Philip when we were both six years old at Ipswich High School, which was then located in Westerfield Road and we formed a close childhood friendship. I was the only girl at his party in Bolton Lane together with ten boys. I remember him quite seriously asking me to marry him. He reminded me of that when he sought me out as a young adult. He went to Ipswich School and I continued at the High School and our meetings were intermittent. We started seeing each other again more seriously in the sixth form but circumstances prevented us meeting too often. I went off to college and he went to Sandhurst and very soon he was off to France.
Philip was a lovely boy, kind, thoughtful and very dedicated to help win the war and to do his duty for his country. He wrote to me from France and said ‘please don’t worry about me because if I get killed you will know that I died doing what I wanted to do and felt was right’.
A few weeks later I heard that he had been killed. He was only twenty.”
Philip was at School with David Hewitt and Colin Harrison who both served during WW2. David, having heard of Philip’s death, named his son after him and, when David received the Legion D’Honneur in 2016, he dedicated it “to his best friend Phil who died in a tank at the battle of Caen in the summer of 1944”.
Huge thanks go to Alan Wyatt OI who is dedicated to researching our OIs who have served in the forces across the world.
To read more about OIs who served in WWI and WWII please follow this link – https://alanwyatt.wixsite.com/oldipswichiansww2