George Herbert Payne

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George Herbert Payne

Lieut G H Payne

26 August 1914(1914-08-26)

(aged 21)
Le Cateau
Resting place Le Cateau Military Cemetery (plot three, row C, grave three)
Education Boston Grammar School; Wellingborough; Jesus College, Cambridge
Employer 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment; 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Lieut George Herbert Payne had already fought at Mons before losing his life at Le Cateau, just three weeks and one day after Great Britain declared war on Germany. He was 21 years old, and close to finishing his degree at Cambridge’s Jesus College.

George, the only son of a farmer by the same name, grew up in Sleaford Road, Boston and had been educated at Boston Grammar School before continuing his studies in Wellingborough, and then moving on to Cambridge. He had already decided on a career in the military when he joined the Officer Reserve at school. He was gazetted into the 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, on 13 June 1914.

When war broke out he gained a commission in the 2nd Battalion and he left for the continent on 11 August. Despite being killed in action, he was initially reported as missing and his family began enquiries to discover his whereabouts, first through the regiment, then through the War Office and the Red Cross.

In May 1915 they had a letter from the War Office stating "...a communication lately received from the German Government through the American Embassy, contains a list of officers reported '...dead - buried at a place unknown'"

Payne was on the list. The letter continued "The Military Secretary is of opinion that this evidence, combined with the fact that the officer had been so long missing, must be taken as conclusive proof of death ..."

This information confirmed the message from a postcard to George’s sister, received on 14 January 1915 from Company Sergeant Major WA Read, a prisoner of war at Doeberitz, in Germany.

He wrote: "I regret to state that your brother ... GH Payne died nobly on August 26, 1914, at Le-Cateau while defending the position in which he had been placed."

Some years later, Lieut Payne’s body was found and identified. Hisbody was buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery with the inscription "Tell England Ye Who Pass We Died For Her So Rest Content". That spot: plot three, row C, grave three, is the final resting place of Lieut George Herbert Payne, one of the first Bostonians to be killed in action during the First World War.

See Also