A very different call for help

Here at the Norfolkinworldwar1 team we’ve been contacted by Mr Kelly with another World War One query, and once more we are hoping that our readers can help – although this time we have lots of information and are looking for descendants of a WW1 soldier.

Mr Kelly writes:

A relative in Canada has come across a WW1 Medal for the above named. My local History Research Group have identified the following from his War number in the Norfolk Regiment where he was Private 24249 which is on the Medal.




Further research has shown that soldier #24249 is in fact:
Cyril Henry Payne
Birth Date: 21 Mar 1891
Baptism Date: 14 Jun 1891
Baptism Place: Aylmerton, Norfolk, England
Father: William Payne
Mother: Eliza Jane Payne

Mr Kelly continues that his Canadian family are travelling to the UK in the autumn and would like to return the medal to the family if they can be found – so if anyone reading this can help locate Cecil Payne’s family please do email Sarah at norfolkinworldwar1@gmail.com so we can try to reunite the medal.


The Mystery of a Military Cross Award.

On the Norfolk Regiment pages of this blog a conversation has been taking place regarding a one of the regiment’s own but that has subsequently thrown up more questions than answers…

One of our readers has restored a trench watch that belonged to Captain R B Caton of the 4th and contacted us to see if we could help him fill in some of the details relating to Cpt. Caton.

Captain Caton

Continue reading

Vernon Castle

During May at the Norfolk Heritage Centre we have been celebrating the life of Vernon Blyth, better known as Vernon Castle. His name is familiar to any regular visitors to the Millennium library as our training room here is named after the Norfolk born man.Vernon and Irene Castle

Vernon went from Norwich to become a worldwide dancing star, was awarded a medal for bravery in WW1 and had his life cut tragically short in 1918.

Castle, was of course a stage name.  Vernon William Blyth was born in Norwich on May 2nd 1887 to William and Jane Blyth. He went on to become a dancing star, appearing on Broadway, in vaudeville and on the silver screen. Vernon was just 30 years old when he died in a training accident during WW1.

Vernon Blyth spent much of his childhood living on the Prince of Wales Road in the Great Eastern Hotel, where his grandfather and father were landlords. He appears on the 1901 Census at this address and .he attended the Norwich School in the City. In his earlier years Vernon had lived for a time with his parents in London, appearing on the 1891 Census at 24 James St in Marylebone.

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Demolition of the Great Eastern Hotel

Vernon left Norfolk for New York in 1906 eventually meeting Irene Foote who was to become his wife. Vernon and Irene Castle had huge success around the world but Vernon returned to England in 1915 to join the Royal Flying Corps. In 1917 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery, he had shot down at least two enemy planes. In the same year he was retired from active duty.

Vernon was sent to the USA and Canada where he trained pilots. He was seriously injured in a flying accident near Fort Worth, Texas and died on February 15th 1918.

Vernon and Irene Castle were played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1939 film “The story of Vernon and Irene Castle”. Vernon had inspired Astaire in his younger days and the story of the Castles on the cinema screen inspired a whole new generation to dance.

Captain Castle, who had completed 150 flying missions during WWI, is buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.

The Norfolk Heritage Centre is a partnership of the Norfolk Library and Information Service and the Norfolk Record Office. If you are interested in tracing your WW1 Family History we have many records and subscriptions that may be able to help you.

Orla – Archive Specialist

Until the end of May you can pop into the Millennium Library and see various items relating to Vernon Castle, including his Croix de Guerre

For further Information:

Norfolk Heritage Centre:  heritagecentre@norfolk.gov.uk 01 603 774740. @NorfolkHC, http://norwichmillenniumlibrary.eventbrite.co.uk

Norfolk Record Office: norfrec@norfolk.gov.uk @NorfolkRO,  http://norfolkrecordoffice.eventbrite.co.uk