Dunkirk/Northamptonshire Reg/Payne George E

Discussion in '1940' started by impala_ood, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Dear all

    I'm trying to piece together the military career of my great uncle George Edward Payne dob 13th May 1920. I know that George's service number was 5885340, he was a private in the Northamptonshire Regiment and died on or around 25th May 1944 serving with the Kings Regiment (Liverpool) in Burma. Forum members have already been a great help to me in understanding the circs around George's death and the wider campaign in Burma, and I'm now thinking about his earlier war and time in the Northants.

    Talking to a cousin the other day she recalls her mum (George's sister) remembering that George had been evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. She apparently always remembered that George lost his boots on the beaches and arrived back in England in bare feet. This was the first time I realised that George had been at Dunkirk. I found it quite sobering to think he had been through so much so early in the war, only to meet his end in the jungle far from home 4 years later.

    Separately, my Mum seems to recall that her Mum (another one of George's sisters) always said George 'looked lovely in his trews' and remembers him wearing tartan trousers.

    I am going to send off for George's service record and see what that tells me, but in the meantime are any of you knowledgeable forum members able to help me understand:

    1) Was any battalion of the Northamptonshire regiment evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk?
    2) Is it possible to say which battalion George Edward Payne served in?
    3) Would there be any record of George being evacuated?
    4) Can you think of any circumstances why George, a solider in the Northants regiment, would have worn tartan trousers as part of his uniform? Or could George have served in another regiment beside the Northants and Kings (in which he was serving when he died)?

    I'm sorry if this post only demonstrates my own lack of knowledge! And I'm sure anything you can tell me about the regiment, the time, or the man would be a great help.



    PS attached is a photo of George with the Northamptonshire Regiment. We think George is middle row third from left
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Both the 2nd and the 5th Battalions of the Northamptons were in France in 1940. What remained of the 2nd were generally taken off from Dunkirk by HMS Malcolm. Some of the 5th did embark from the beach at De Panne which makes them a more likely unit.

    He's certainly wearing a Northamptonshire cap badge in the photograph but the Service Dress uniform indicates a pre-war date. Is there any photographer's address on the photo ?

    The Northamptons certainly never wore tartan.
  3. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply Rich. I take it you and George aren't related somewhere along the line?! No, sadly no date or address on the photo. When I eventually get his service record is it likely to say which battalion he was in, or just the regiment?

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Keep us posted on the service records - We'd need to know the battalion to take it further :)
  5. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Thanks Drew will do. I understand it can take a few months to get the service records back from the MOD, so expect to see this post resurface in a few months time! Any other contributions are most welcome in the meantime.

  6. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    Couple of items for you, plus the sources:

    - 2nd Northamptonshire are mention on this website (see Alfred Clark's posting) http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/ww2/allied/northamptonshireregiment.php
    - 5th Northamptonshire are mentioned in book 'The Miracle of Dunkirk', Walter Lord (1982)
    - According to the order of battle in 'Dunkirk 1940, Operation Dynamo' by Osprey Publishing. 17th Infantry (see below) was in the 5th Division, under the command of Major General Harold E. Franklyn

    The 2nd Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment was based in UK on the
    outbreak of war on 3 Sep 1939, assigned to the 17th Infantry Brigade in the
    5th Infantry Division. The battalion was part of the British Expeditionary
    Force deployed to France later that month. In May 1940 the battalion was
    engaged in the defence of the Escaut and was the directed to hold Arras,
    which it did in the face of greater numbers and arms. But when French
    forces on the battalion's right fell back, their position became
    untenable. A withdrawal was ordered, but C Company on the right flank was
    unable to obey the command and was over-run. The same fate overtook A
    Company at St Eloi on the Ypre-Comines Canal on 26-28 May. By the time the
    battalion reached Dunkirk it was reduced to 150 men. Back at home the
    battalion was rebuilt and trained....

    source :
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  7. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Sobering stuff. Very sobering. Thank you for finding that information for me. I've always taken an interest in history, and the Second World War in particular, since watching Sunday afternoon war films with my Nan as a young boy, or talking to my Maltese grandparents about their wartime experiences. But it's only now, that they are all gone, and I try to really understand more about what they did, that the human reality of it all really starts to sink in. And with George particularly the pull has always felt particular strong so I really do appreciate your help.

    For those who are interested a rare photo of George has recently come to light and I will include it below. From this individual photo we can then identify George in the army group photo as back row 4th from left. He looks a kind man, and I'm pleased we're talking about him after all this time.

    Thanks again and any further comments most welcome

  8. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    I apologise now for resurrecting this thread after such a long interlude, but from casualty lists I can now confirm George was in the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment at the time of the Dunkirk evacuations. Casualty records show him as missing between 8th July 1940 and 15th August 1940, which ties in with oral family history which states he was AWOL for a short period due a significant personal event on his return from Dunkirk. George later volunteered (acording to family oral history) for service in Burma with the Chindits, and died on or around 25th May 1944 serving with the 1st Kings Liverpool Battalion as part of 'Operation Thursday' the 2nd Chindit expedition, most likely during the fall of the 'Blackpool' block.

    If anyone can help me learn about George's service wth the Northants in 1939/1940 and later, or the activities of the 2nd Battalion in particular as part of the BEF, I would be very grateful.
    Owen likes this.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Well done for coming back 7 years later-Many never bother :)
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  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Did you get his service records?

    Concerning the Casualty Lists, I wonder if you have seen the actual documents? The date of 8 July 1940 is not the date he went missing, but the date of the actual list, this would have been some time after the incident. I cannot see any reference to 15 August 1940.

    5885340 PAYNE Pte G 2 Bn Northamptonshire Regt

    Casualty List No. 249 Dated 8 July 1940
    Expeditionary Force / France / Missing / Date not reported

    Casualty List No. 1482 Dated 26 June 1944
    Expeditionary Force / Burma / Missing 25/4/1944 1 Bn Northamptonshire Regt

    Casualty List No. 1505 Dated 22 July 1944
    List No. 1482 should read 1 Bn King's Regt

    Casualty List No. 2005 Dated 8 March 1946
    Now presumed KIA on or shortly after 25.4.44
    impala_ood likes this.
  11. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Thanks for the replies chaps. And I apologise for being an infrequent visitor.

    Tony I've not physically seen the casualty lists, but checked them out on xxx UK this morning. There;s been a long hiatus in my family history research and it's amazing what new information is online.

    I'll attach some screen shots below of what was listed on that site, but in between the ones you kindly mentioned Tony, was the following:

    Incident date 15th August 1940
    Casuaty List No. 282. Previously reported missing now Not missing. Casualty list No.249

    Is the delay you mention between the event (going missing) and the date of the list (8th July) likely to be long enough that it meant he went missing in France at some point prior to being evacuated? I did wonder if that would be the case as the duty location was given as France and I imagine many men seperated from their units may have been recorded as missing in those confusing days.



  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Please do not attach screenshots from that website.
  13. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Got it - apologies, I didn't realise that was a breach of the rules. Won't happen again.

  14. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    OK found it, his service number had been incorrectly transcribed which is why it didn't appear in my first search, again it is the date of the list and not the incident, which is still unreported.

    Casualty List No. 282 Dated 15 August 1940
    Previously reported missing now not missing.

    I cannot comment on the delay between the unit, firstly being aware of an incident, then reporting it and finally it being published, as you say confusing days. What may be interesting is the following post:

    Casualty List No. 1
  15. impala_ood

    impala_ood Junior Member

    Really helpful and a very interesting article, thanks Tony. So that first list published in January 1940 included deaths or incidents as much as 3 months prior, in October 1939. I imagine the lists were published more frequently as the phoney war ended and the pace of events and casualities accelerated, but still as you say a lengthy delay between the event, the report being made, and the publication of the list seems likely particularly as the article says no casualty would be included on a list until their next of kin had been informed first. Which all leads me to think that somewhere along the line George must have been missing during the confusing days of the retreat to or evacuation from Dunkirk.

    Is it likely that a record exists somewhere of when/how an individual was evacuated or arrived back in the UK?

    Sorry to ask so many questions.


  16. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  17. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I think that missing in the sense used to describe George Payne's situation in May/June 1940 should be taken to mean unaccounted for, i.e. not present at the evening roll call, and that no one present at the roll call could vouch for his whereabouts, or saw him wounded or killed. This situation could have remained unchanged for many days, or even weeks, as men separated from their units made their own way to the Dunkirk beaches and were able to officially report for duty.

    I would recommend that you watch the original Dunkirk film, starring John Mills,as it will give you a very good impression of the chaos and confusion a small group of men separated from their unit went through.
    skimmod, Tony56 and impala_ood like this.

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