Photo: Illustrative image for the 'NELLIE'S MBE' page

Local Heroism

By Richard Beckett

In 1919, Nellie Payne was awarded the MBE for courage in helping to extinguish a burning bomb stack in the Army Ordnance Depot which was situated in the old Heighton cement Works, (where the Three Ponds Caravan site is now). I looked at the 1911 census returns and found two Nellie Payne's resident in this area, both of whom could have been the one in question. The first one lived in Read's cottages on Denton Island, (she would have been 17 years old in 1919), and the second one, who lived in Sth Heighton, would have been 23 in 1919. Of these two therefore the second one seems the most likely to have been the one involved.

Is anyone able to verify which Nellie it was and if so are there any relatives or descendants still alive who know more details of the incident, (maybe someone has newspaper cuttings) or where the Medal is now. If there are, would you be prepared to let Newhaven Museum have copies of any written details, and maybe a photograph of the Medal?

This page was added by Richard Beckett on 12/12/2011.
Comments about this page

Nellie Payne was my grandmother and she grew up at Reads Cottages on Denton Island. She was part of a number of people in this act of heroism and she was chosen to be the one who actually received the award that I always believed to be the OBE! As far as I know my uncle who lives in Essex now has the medal I will see if can get a photo for display in the museum. Nellie died in 1963, her father was Richard Payne who was coxswain of the Newhaven lifeboat in the 1920's and who was awarded the RNLI silver medal following the rescue of 10 crew aboard the stricken Danish schooner Mogens Koch which was wrecked at Cuckmere, Richard received injuries in the rescue from which he died in June 1931.

Editors Note; It would be nice if a photo of your Grandmother and the medal, could be published here on this page.

By Dave King
On 21/09/2015

My Grandfather George Holder was also one of those involved in this incident. The OBE (Awarded to the men ) who were involved was given to Newhaven town to be looked after. I am really surprised that this medal and the press cuttings have mysteriously disappeared. Research into this incident is very limited, does anyone have any information to help find and pass it onto our museum at Newhaven.


By Mel Allen
On 19/08/2016

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