Looking for soldiers that served prior to WW1? Find My Past is the best resource for finding information about Victorian-era Soldiers.
By far the best resource for WW1 research. WW1 Service Records, pension papers, medal index cards and casualty information.
Search through millions of archived British Newspaper Articles to find any references to your ancestors.

Alfred Pye was christened at St. John`s Parish Church in Preston on the 14 July, 1895 the son of Alfred and Alice Pye (nee Harrison). Alfred`s parents married in the same parish church on Christmas Day 1875. He had three brothers and five sisters; George (1874), John (1876), Jane (1879), Margaret (1886), Henry (1889), Elizabeth Alice (1890), Lilly (1893) and Mary (1898).

Alfred`s parents started their married life living in North Road in Preston before moving with their family to Great George Street and by 1911 they had moved again this time to 18 Cromwell Street where they remained for a number of years. Alfred was working in a cotton mill as a spinner along with his father and his older brothers and sisters.

As well as working in a cotton mill it seems Alfred had also taken up the sport of boxing when he was about 18 years old. Apparently between 1913/14 he engaged in 22 professional fights and appears to have been quite successful. During his boxing career he travelled the country and was known as `Battling Pye` from Preston.

The following newspaper cutting dated 22 May, 1914 appeared in a local paper announcing one of his victories.


The next newspaper cutting was dated 28 July, 1914 again recording another win for `Battling Pye`.


After war was declared Alfred put his boxing ambitions to one side and on the 15th September 1914 he went to the recruiting office in Preston to enlist. He confirmed that he had no previous military experience and was unmarried. He was allotted the service number 2577 and posted to the 1/4th Battalion. At his medical inspection the Medical Officer noted that Alfred was in good physical condition and stood at five feet three and a half inches tall.

Alfred sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4 May, 1915 and just over a month later on the 15th June, 1915 he took part in the battalion actions around Festubert. Unfortunately Alfred sustained serious wounds in the battle resulting in his death in hospital in Rouen on the 17th June, 1915.

A photograph of Alfred `Battling` Pye appeared later in the local paper after news of his death reached Preston.


Another article appeared later in the Preston Daily Herald newspaper;

DEATH OF `BATTLING` PYE – Promising Preston Pugilist Succumbs to Wounds

“The modern boxing ring has suffered a severe loss by the death from wounds in action of `Battling` Pye, the well known Preston fly-weight. In a surprisingly short space of time Pye made his mark in the modern ring, and from Preston his fame as a boxer spread through the length and breadth of the North lands, so far as Scotland on one side and down to the Midland centres on the other. Private Alfred Pye, to give him his Army title, resided with his parents at 18 Cromwell Street, Preston, and was only in his 19th year when in November last be answered the call to service and joined the 4th Loyal North Lancs (Territorials). He had been in France about a couple of months when he received the wounds which subsequently proved fatal.

`Battling` Pye`s connection with the ring goes back to the days of the Adelphi, and he was one of the most brilliant of the youngsters whom Mr. Sharples discovered at his hall, and cultivated. His rise when once he had mastered the use of the gloves was rapid and he was in demand all over the country for exhibition bouts. When he enlisted he had four engagements awaiting fulfilment at Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Glasgow. Mr Sharples has received letters from sporting authorities in all parts of the country in praise of the talents displayed by the dead fly-weight”

Alfred`s service papers note that his identity disc was the only personal possession returned to his parents in Preston.

He was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his parents later signed for.

Alfred was buried with honour in Lillers Communal Cemetery in France. He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Library and Museum in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2577
Date of Death: 17/06/1915
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
Latest posts by Janet Davis (see all)
(This post has been visited 102 times in the last 90 days)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.
%d bloggers like this:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.