Young researchers from Mileham discover life of former headteacher’s war heroics

Mileham Primary School pupil Latisha Sinclair (9) with her project on Mr Payne who died from war wou

Mileham Primary School pupil Latisha Sinclair (9) with her project on Mr Payne who died from war wounds in the First World War. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Young researchers have been learning more about their school's past after discovering a former headteacher died during the First World War.

Albert Payne, a former headmaster at Mileham Primary School, was listed in a pamphlet about the school's 300-year history which was created in 1977, and within the leaflet it said he had died during the Great War - prompting a school effort to find out more about his life.

During their research, the children discovered the log book of Mileham Primary School which states that he died on August 8, 1917, from war wounds received in action in France.

The words were written by his wife Elizabeth who had taken over as headmistress at the school when her husband was called up on June 2, 1916.

Since their discovery, the project has snowballed and the school's 28 pupils, who range in age from eight to 11, have gone on to learn more about Mr and Mrs Payne's lives, find out about their links to Coggeshall in Essex and trace their relatives in London and Canada.

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They have used the internet to aid their research, been in contact with a historian at Gressenhall museum and have created their very own film about the life of their school's former headmaster.

Teacher John Spooner, who is leading the project, said: 'The children have responded really positively and they are really proud of the film they have made.

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'They were really interested in the school log book which is falling to pieces and the project has really evolved. The children discovered Mrs Payne's brother was a teacher at Dersingham School so we've been in contact with them and relatives in Canada and London have sent us photos.'

Mr Spooner said they plan to upload their film, which the children filmed themselves, to the internet so it can be seen by Mr and Mrs Payne's living relatives.

The children have also just discovered links to a school in Sheringham and in Coggeshall so will be continuing their research.

William Hull, 11, from Mileham, said: 'It's been really interesting, finding out what happened in Mr and Mrs Payne's lives and finding out about their family, where they live and what they did.'

Kelly Trinder, eight, from Mileham, said: 'It was fun going to the church. We found out who had died in the war and how they had died.'

Do you know anything about Albert and Elizabeth Payne which could assist the Mileham Primary School pupils with their research? Email

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