Ernest Payne was the son of Joseph Payne of Pailton, b.c.1859, an ‘Agricultural labourer’ and his wife, Emma, b.c.1852. Ernest was born in late 1886.
In 1891, Ernest was five, and had four siblings: an older brother, Ernest, 6; a younger brother, Herbert, 4; and twin babes, Edith and Frank, 10 months old. In 1901, Ernest was 16 and a ‘servant’ (with ‘stockman’ deleted) to the Gardner family who were farmers at Shilton, Warwickshire.
Ernest Payne’s marriage with Sarah Florence Mason was registered in Rugby in Q4 1907. She would later be recorded by the CWGC records as ‘of Brinklow Rugby’. It seems they had at least one daughter Emma A Payne registered in Rugby in Q4, 1911.
No record can be found of the family’s whereabouts in 1911, and it is uncertain when Ernest enlisted: however his regimental number could indicate that he joined up before the outbreak of war, indeed, he could have been a professional soldier who transferred to 11th Battalion. His records show him as Private, No.10122 [transcribed 10722 in some records] in the 11th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
… 11th (Service) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was raised at Warwick in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third New Army and joined 24th Division as army troops. The Division began to assemble in the area of Shoreham but suffered from a lack of equipment and a lack of trained officers and NCOs to command the volunteers. In April 1915 the 11th Warwicks transferred to 112th Brigade, 37th Division at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain and proceeded to France on 30 July , the division concentrating near Tilques, [near St Omer].
Ernest Payne’s Medal Card shows that he was in France on 31 July 1915, which agrees with the date on which the Battalion crossed on 30 July 1915. At some stage he was promoted to Lance Corporal. After the first days of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the battalion was ‘swapped’ into the 34th Division
The 111th and the 112th Brigades were loaned to the 34th Division from 6 July to 22 August … While under command of 34th Division the brigades took part in the Battle of Bazentin Ridge [14–17 July 1916] and the Battle of Pozières [13 and 17 July 1916].
Pozieres was an objective for the 34th Division on 1 July 1916, but it took much hard fighting before it was taken. It seems that the 11th Battalion had already been fighting at Contalmaison, half a mile south of Pozieres, and Pozieres.
The only battalion of the Royal Warwickshire which took part in the fighting during the second week of July was the 11th, which held a line of trenches before Contalmaison and helped to repulse a German counter-attack on 10 July, when three officers were killed.
The village was an objective for the 34th Division on 1 July 1916, but it took many more days of hard fighting before it was taken.
It was presumably in one of these actions in the Pozzieres area that Lance Corporal Ernest Payne was killed, aged 31, on 15 July 1916.
He is listed as Ernest Payne by the CWGC, as one of those killed or missing, on 15 July 1916 and whose body was not found or identified. He is remembered on Pier and Face 9A, 9B, and 10B, of the Thiepval Memorial.
The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.
He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and also on the Church Lawford and Kings Newnham Memorials.
Ernest Payne was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Ernest Payne was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.