Alfred Roy Pye was born on 1 November, 1892 at Toogong, NSW. He was known as “Roy” and was the son of James Henry Pye and his wife, Elizabeth. James Henry Pye was a Police Constable.
Roy’s nephew, Roy William Pye related that, “James Henry was hard and cruel, particularly to the boys. The girls put their shoes outside their doors each night and the boys had to clean and polish them each morning. Not surprising all of the boys left home as soon as they were able.
Once when James Henry Pye was away one of the boys (Alfred Roy) played truant for three days. The local schoolteacher reported it and JHP brought him before the magistrate and had Alfred Roy sentenced to 12 months in a boy’s correctional school on board a ship moored in Sydney Harbour.
The family never forgave him and eventually, around 1900 Elizabeth, his wife, got the opportunity to go to Sydney on the pretext that some of the girls were already living and working there. James Henry remained in the Bathurst/Hill End area until he retired from the force. Elizabeth never returned to him.”
However, it appears that Roy did need some discipline in his life as he continued to get into trouble for when he was a thirteen years old, Roy appeared before the Cowra bench on 28th February, 1905. “The said Alfred Roy Pye did in company with one Edgar Mitchell steal one bridle bit and two bridle reins valued at twelve shillings and sixpence, the property of one Joseph Newton”. The charge sheet stated that Alfred’s character was “bad”, “plays truant, steals anything he can; associates with the worst boys in town”. The record gives details of his parents, “James Henry Pye Police Constable 3/6 per day. Father stationed at Mt McDonald. Mother lives at Cowra, presumably separated. Mother with whom boy lived apparently has no control over him as she has frequently been spoken to by Cowra police over boy’s conduct without result”. Alfred Roy Pye was “charged in company with stealing parts of a bridle with which they and other boys used to ride other persons horses”.
Roy William Pye wrote, “My Uncle Roy had a strange life and he may have been affected by his ordeal. He did an apprenticeship as a tiler and then enlisted in the A.I.F. and in France in WWI, returned safely and taught tiling at the Sydney Technical College. Then the Depression came and he lost his job and for four years played the part of a blind beggar outside of one of the shopping arcades in Pitt Street Sydney. I remember Mum taking me into the city and unexpectedly we saw him. He had a sign hanging from him asking for help for a blind digger.” He was sentenced to fourteen days gaol for begging outside the Railway Station.
Alfred married Marie/Mary May Mildenhall and they had two children, Hilda and John. Mary Pye died in 1929, only 9 years after her marriage.
“During the time he was begging he came to a birthday party at the McCoy’s. Mum and most of the sisters and their children were there. Alfred Roy also brought his two children along. He decided to give all the children money to go and buy ice cream so he dug into his pocket and brought out several handfuls of coins, mostly pennies and halfpennies. The sisters were horrified, especially Dulcie as the McCoy’s thought of themselves as upper class. “Later when I was in the Middle East our army unit was involved in a big sports carnival and we gathered around to watch the finish of the marathon race and who should finish among the tailenders was my Uncle Roy. I calculated he would have been 49 years. We had a quite talk after but I never saw him or heard anything of him again.”
Alfred Roy Pye was only listed in the Australian Electoral Rolls under his name until 1937 and there were only Army records for him for World War One under the name Alfred Ray Pye.
It was because of Roy W Pye’s comment that his uncle had served in the Second World War that I decided to look at his Army Records again.
In his army service records there is a letter that Alfred Roy Pye wrote to the Army regarding his discharge certificate “concerning No 5524 Driver A R Pye. I understand you had previously sent this on to me at 20 Reiby St, Enmore but as I had gone abroad as Sapper C H May with the 9th Div. I was not on hand to collect it. I have since learnt that Records has sent it back to you. As I am now getting out on release as is my right after going through every 9th Div. Campaign without at any stage being indisposed nor extended, I feel that I have no obligation to apologise to anyone.
Will you please therefore send it on to me, my address is for this purpose. NX19648, L Cpl C. H. May c/- Blamey House, Collins St. Melbourne.”
Looking in the WW2 enlistment records I found he had changed his name to Charles Henry May (NX19648). He gave his next-of-kin as “Hilda May”. This was his daughter’s given names and is probably why he chose “May” as his new surname. I then looked in the Victorian Electoral Rolls and found Charles Henry May and an Edith May living in 50 Ercildoune St. Caulfield West, Victoria. Roy died as Charles Henry May in 1970 at Heidelberg, Victoria.