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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Unlike Thomas Sage, Alfred Maurice Toye was not born in Tiverton but came to the town in later life. His gravestone indicates that he was known, not as " Alfred" Toye, but by his second name, "Maurice".

He was born on on 15 April 1897 on the great base at Aldershot which the British Army established in the 1850s. His actual place of birth was given as Stanhope Lines - a rebuilding of the original South Camp, named after Edward Stanhope, then the Secretary of State. Stanhope Lines consisted of Albuhera, Barossa, Corunna, Gibraltar, Maida, Buller, Mandors and McGrigor Barracks.

Alfred Maurice Toye

A. Maurice Toye V.C; M.C

Courtesy of Hampshire County Council

The census taken in 1901, when Maurice was 3 years old, shows the family living off the base at 13, St. Michael's Road, Aldershot. His parents were James and Elizabeth Toye and his father worked for the Army as a civilian clerk. By that time, there were 4 children living at home - William 16, Ethel 8, (Alfred) Maurice 3, and Henry 1. In 1912, when he was 15, Maurice Toye left home to join the Royal Engineers as a bugler and from that humble beginning, eventually worked his way through the ranks to become a Brigadier.

For his gallantry in 1917 while serving with the Royal Engineers in the 3rd Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele) at some time between 26 October and 10 November, Maurice Toye was awarded the Military Cross. By the following year, he had been promoted to Acting Captain and  attached to the 2nd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment (The Duke of Cambridge's Own).

The deed for which Maurice Toye was awarded the V.C occurred in the following year, on 25 March 1918, a few days before his 21st birthday. The Germans had launched their Spring Offensive with considerable ferocity on 21 March 1918 and British losses were high. The task for the 2nd Battalion  was to hold a section of Eterpigny Ridge* to give other Regiments, who had engaged in particularly heavy fighting, a chance to rest and regroup. They defended the ridge but paid a terrible price - 11 of the 16 platoons of the 2nd Middlesex were wiped out on 25 March 1918.

Toye's citation reads:

"On 25 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 established a line which had been abandoned before his arrival. He was twice wounded but remained on duty."

Grave of Maurice and Flora Toye

Maurice Toye saw service in World War 2 in the 6th Airborne Division and in GHQ Middle East.

He married Flora Robertson and they had two daughters. Husband and wife lie together under the trees in this quiet corner of Tiverton Cemetery.

His V.C is now on public display at the National Army Museum, Chelsea. It was also loaned to the VC Centenary Exhibition, Marlborough House, London, 15th June to 7th July 1956

The grave of Maurice and Flora Toye

Tiverton Cememtery 2005


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