Military History

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First World War Podcasts

Click on Charlie's War Video Podcasts to find out about the  experiences of Private Charlie Payne during his military training, and his first experience of the trenches on the Western Front.

Charles Frederick Payne

Charlie Payne, born in 1883, was a finance clerk from London who left an extraordinary legacy of letters and diaries. Recently rediscovered in a black Victorian hat box, these documents form the basis for the poignant story of Charlie's life.  Nothing expresses better a period in history than the contemporary voice. It is my intention in a forthcoming book to ensure that Charlie's 'voice' can be heard clearly through edited extracts from his letters and diaries which will be set within the wider social and political context of the period.  His story starts with a peacetime childhood in London, work in the City of London and with the newly-established American Express Office in Genoa, marriage, fatherhood, and service as a 'Derbyite conscript' with the Yorkshire Regiment (during training), and the 2/5th battalion of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) regiment) on the Western Front in the First World War. His correspondence to his wife, Ida, during his military service, reveals his experiences of military training and warfare. During his time in France in 1917-1918 he fought as a Lewis gunner at the Battle of Cambrai, the Defence of Bucquoy (during the 1918 German Spring Offensive), the Second Battle of the Marne and the Advance to Victory before entering Germany as part of the Army of Occupation in the Rhineland after the armistice. The unexpected emerges when his letters make reference to family friendships with Billy Hughes (William Morris Hughes), the Australian Prime Minister.  This will be a book about family life in London in the early 20th Century, love, friendships, and the Great War and its consequences.  Ultimately this will be Charlie's story.

IT IS MY INTENTION TO MAKE SOME OF CHARLIE'S DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE VIA THIS WEBSITE.  THE FIRST OF THESE WILL BE DIARIES THAT HE WROTE DURING 1903 AND 1904 (AGED 19-21), WHEN HE WAS LIVING IN EAST DULWICH AND WORKING IN THE CITY OF LONDONIF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING THESE, THEY WILL BECOME AVAILABLE AT 'CHARLIE PAYNE'S EDWARDIAN BLOG'.  HIS DIARY ENTRIES FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 1903 ARE NOW ONLINE.