b. 15/04/1897 Aldershot, Hampshire. d. 06/09/1955 Tiverton, Devon.
Alfred Maurice Toye (1897-1955) was the eldest son of Mr James R Toye, Chief Clerk, General Registry, Aldershot Command, and was born in Aldershot on 15th April 1897. He was born at “D” Terrace, Stanhope Lane, Aldershot and was educated at the Garrison School, Aldershot.
Toye’s father was a Christian Scientist and he ran a troop of Boy Scouts, the 2nd Aldershot, which had its HQ in a hut in Wellington Lines, Aldershot. Alfred was a First Patrol Leader and also King’s Scout. Henry, his younger brother, was also in the troop. At the age of 15, he enlisted as a trumpeter in the Royal Engineers on boys’ service and went to train at The Curragh, County Kildare. On 4th August 1915, when he was still only 18, he went to France and became an Acting Corporal. At the end of 1916, he applied to become an officer and went to the Cadet School at Blendecques, near St Omer.
He was then given a regular commission into the 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. He was posted to them on 15th February 1917 from the Royal Engineers and in October he was awarded the Military Cross in the Passchendaele Offensive. He was then made Acting Captain and given the command of a company on 15th August 1917. He served in France and Belgium until 24th April 1918 and again from 23rd August to 11th November 1918.
On 25th March 1918 at Eterpigny Ridge, France, Captain Toye displayed conspicuous bravery and fine leadership. He three times re-established a post which had been captured by the enemy and, when his three other posts were cut off, he fought his way through the enemy with one officer and six men. He counter-attacked with 70 men and took up a line which he maintained until reinforcements arrived. In two subsequent operations he covered the retirement of his battalion and later re-established a line that had been abandoned before his arrival. He was twice wounded but remained on duty.
He was promoted to Lieutenant on 15th August 1918 and was Acting Major from 29th September 1918 to 21st July 1919. He was wounded three times in all during the war. He was decorated by King George V on Queen’s Parade, Aldershot on 8th June 1918 when he was not fully fit, having only recently been a patient at a military hospital in Winchester. Toye received an ovation when he appeared on the dais before the King and gave the salute. Both of his parents attended the investiture, and he was also presented with the Freedom of Aldershot by Aldershot Town Council, who placed the document in a silver casket which was accompanied by a large portrait.
At the same time, his wife, whom he married on 15th June 1918, received a diamond pendant. His wife was formerly Miss Flora Robertson, an Army School teacher and daughter of Mr G P Robertson, a bandmaster of the Royal Army Medical Corps. They had two daughters.
After the Armistice, he was one of six VC holders who were specially selected for service in the North Russian campaign under Temporary Brigadier General George Grogan VC. He served on the General Staff and went there in April 1919 as a Lieutenant. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his services as an Intelligence Officer. He had been surprised by his selection for this job and had been contemplating going to India. He was present at the VC Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 26th June 1920.
Between 1922 and 1924 he worked as on a special appointment with the Rhine Army which meant he was based in Cologne. On 26th April 1924 he transferred to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and from November 1925 was Chief Instructor, Royal Egyptian Military College in Cairo for 10 years. He was awarded the Order of the Nile (Commander) for his work. In 1937, he was back in England and living with his wife in married quarters at Ypres Road, Reed Hall, Colchester. In March 1938 he was promoted to Major and again to Lt Colonel in 1939.
From 1940 to 1942, he was commander of the War Office School of Chemical Warfare and in 1943 became an instructor at the Staff College at Camberley. In 1943-1944 he was Brigade Commander with the 6th Airborne Division, and later served in GHQ, Cairo between 1945 and 1948. He was promoted to Brigadier on 1st July 1948 and retired from the Army on 19th January 1949.
In his last years, he was Commandant at the Home Office Civil Defence School at Falfield in Gloucestershire, where he was taken ill with cancer and for the last 7 months of his life he was almost totally paralysed. He died at the Madame Curie Memorial Foundation, Tidcombe Hall, Tiverton, Devon on 6th September 1955. He was buried in Tiverton Cemetery, and he bequeathed his medals to a named beneficiary. His medals were then auctioned on 17th September 1992 at Sotheby’s in London, and were sold for £25,500 and are held (though sadly not displayed) at the National Army Museum, Chelsea.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA.
BURIAL PLACE: TIVERTON CEMETERY, TIVERTON, DEVON.
Alfred Toye's medals including his VC and MC on the National Army Museum website.
SECTION XF, GRAVE 36 - courtesy of Kevin Brazier
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)