Percy Payne was born in the village of Kingston Seymour, between Weston-super-Mare and Yatton, Somerset. His parents were agricultural labourer Harry Payne and his wife, Elizabeth, and he had three brothers.
It seems that Percy’s parents may well have separated by 1911; Elizabeth is listed as a widow in the 1911 census, but Harry appears to be alive and well and living in South Wales.
According to the census records, Elizabeth was working as a charwoman, while three of her children were working to help support the family. Percy’s two older brothers were employed as a carter and a domestic servant, while Percy himself was working as an errand boy.
By the time war broke out, Percy has stepped up the ladder. His service records listed his trade as a groom, working in Congresbury, near Bristol. He enlisted in March 1916, at the age of 19 years and 8 months, and was assigned as a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers. He spent most of that year training on home soil, before being shipped out to France at the end of December.
Illness seems to have dogged Private Payne; he returned to England after a couple of months, and was transferred to the Labour Corps fairly soon afterwards. By September 1917 a further transfer was made, this time to the Royal Army Medical Corps, before he was finally discharged from military service on 21st January 1918, suffering from tuberculosis.
Sadly, the lung condition was to prove fatal, and Percy passed away on 26th June 1918. He was just 21 years old.
Percy Payne lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in the village of Yatton, Somerset.