LANCE CORPORAL 330431 “D”COMPANY 1ST/8TH BATTALION
KILLED IN ACTION ON THURSDAY 19TH APRIL 1917 AGE 28YRS
REMEMBERED WITH HONOUR IN GAZA WAR CEMETERY,ISRAEL
GRAVE REF (XX.G.10)
James was born C1890 in High Wycombe. The 1911 Census shows a James Payne living with
his wife in Flackwell Heath, however her name is transcribed as Emma whereas his CWGC
certificate lists his wife as Helen May. Is this the correct James Payne? James is listed as a
polisher. This couple had been married for 2 yrs and had lost one child.
Research cannot find a marriage for James and Emma but a marriage to a Helen May
Beasley in 1909(Find my past)which does fit. There was a Beasley family living in Flackwell
Heath in 1901.
Helen re-married a George Barnes after the death of James in 1917. At the time of his death
she was living at 12, Folley’s Row, Flackwell Heath.
The Rifles were withdrawn from the Gallipoli campaign in November 1915 and sailed to
Alexandria. They trained near the Great Pyramids preparing for the advance into Palestine.
The aim of the campaign was to protect the Suez Canal by driving the Turks out of Sinai and
back up through Palestine. They hoped to link up with General Townshend’s force driving
In March 1917 the Rifles were in reserve for the First Battle of Gaza but the Turks had a
heavily fortified line waiting for them. On 17th Apr 1917 the Second Battle of Gaza began.
There was almost no cover as they advanced over the top with a great dash. There was
heavy gunfire and shells. Some prisoners were taken but there were heavy casualties.
Men were holding packs in front of their heads in a desperate attempt to avoid the sweeping
machine guns and the slightest movement drew heavy fire. They dug in and tried to survive
the day. Those who did spent the next night trying to find and rescue the wounded.
This second Battle of Gaza was a costly failure. The final death toll for the Rifles was 8
officers and 186 men mostly from “C” and “D” Companies on the left. One of those killed was
James Payne. He is also remembered on the Little Marlow War Memorial, High Wycombe
Roll of Honour and Wycombe Hospital Plaque.