Frederick James Vye

Name Frederick James Vye
Corps Queens (Royal West Surrey) Regiment 1/24 Battalion
Rank Private
Service No. G/68016
Date/ Place of entry Kettering
Date of death 22 August 1918, killed in Action
Memorial Panel 3, Vis-en Artois Memorial

Frederick James Vye was born in Middleton in 1899, the fourth child and second son of farmworker John Thomas Vye and his second wife Emma Alice nee Morley who was from Clipston. The other children were Maud Miriam, Nora Helen and William born between 1886 and 1892, and the youngest Beatrice Ethel born in 1901.

John had two children from his first marriage to Rebecca Licquorish who had died in 1883.They were John Thomas and Rachel Rebecca, born in 1880 and 1881. Emma had a daughter Alice Ann born in 1873 who was blind from birth. 

The name Vye briefly appears in the Cottingham parish registers in the 17th century but John was descended from a Great Easton branch who settled in Middleton early in the nineteenth century. He had some minor brushes with the law, charged with stealing a sack of barley in 1887 and of not sending kids to school – not an uncommon offence in rural areas – in 1892. Emma and the children, and probably John too, were active members of Middleton’s Congregational Church.

Frederick grew up at Middleton Town’s End where in 1901 the next door neighbours included Fred and Harriet Lewin with their son George Lewin and John Booth, grandfather of Samuel William Booth. John Booth and John Vye were evidently excellent gardeners as they won prizes in 1903 and 1904 at Rockingham Flower Show in the Best Cottage Garden category. By 1901 Frederick’s half- brother John Thomas was a railway porter boarding in Leicester with a Saunders family. His half - sister Rachel married John T. William Ellingworth in 1903 and moved to Gretton where their son George was born five years later; they subsequently moved to Uppingham.  .

His blind half-sister Alice Morley was living at Town’s End with the rest of her family in 1888. In August of that year when she was the alleged victim of a sexual assault while alone in the house. The case came to trial in December when the accused man was found not guilty. In 1891 she was an inmate in the Kettering workhouse where she stayed for the next twenty years.

In 1911 John Thomas and Emma were still at Town’s End with William, Frederick, Beatrice and a granddaughter Grace Maud Vye. Next door was Solomon Fisher’s family including postman Harry Fisher. Sisters Maud and Nora were in domestic service in Middleton and Oadby respectively. Maud married William Hassall in 1912, and Nora married John Saunders in Leicester in 1916.

Frederick enlisted at Kettering. The date is not recorded but as he only turned eighteen in the Spring of 1918 he cannot have served for many months. He was posted to the 1/24th Battalion, London Regiment, a territorial battalion attached to the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment. The London Regiment was the largest infantry regiment in the British army in World War One with eighty eight battalions, all of them territorial. In 1916 these battalions had been made part of the corps of regular regiments.

In the summer of 1918 1/24th Battalion saw action on the Somme in the 3rd Battle of Albert  (21-23 August)and operations in Artois. This battle was the initial push leading to the 2nd Battle of the Somme and the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The war diary for the battalion has not survived. However, the book “The 47th (London) Division, 1914-1919” published in 1922 says 142nd Brigade, of which the 1/24th was part, advanced on 22 Aug and met heavy resistance from machine gun nests. It was the hottest day of the War and German opposition was more severe than anticipated. The 1/24th suffered many casualties, among them Frederick Vye.

He is commemorated on the Vis-en Artois Memorial which lists more than 9,000 soldiers from 8 August to the end of the War who have no known grave. The Memorial is some ten kilometres south east of Arras on the road to Cambrai.

The following day, Francis Moore of the Royal Irish Rifles died here and is also commemorated on the Vis-en Artois Memorial. Francis was a second cousin of Thomas William Chambers of Middleton

Frederick James appears to have been the only member of his close family to be killed while fighting. His mother died in 1923 and his father in 1932.