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 Patron 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 Patron 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 :
    CL1 likes this.
  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


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