Charles Pye's medal group now at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
|Died||12 July 1876 (aged 55)|
Kirkstall, Victoria, Australia
Tower Hill cemetery, Koroit
|Unit||40th Regiment of Foot|
21st Regiment of Foot
53rd Regiment of Foot
New Zealand Militia
|Battles/wars||First Anglo-Sikh War|
Second Anglo-Sikh War
New Zealand Wars
Charles Pye VC (chr: 24 September 1820 – 12 July 1876) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Pye was approximately 37 years old, and a sergeant-major in the 53rd Regiment of Foot (later The King's Shropshire Light Infantry), British Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed took place on 17 November 1857 at Lucknow, India for which he was awarded the VC:
For steadiness and fearless conduct under fire at Lucknow, on the 17th of November, 1857, when bringing up ammunition to the Mess House, and on every occasion when the Regiment has been engaged.
Elected by the non-commissioned officers of the Regiment.
Charles Pye is not to be confused with Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Colquhoun Pye (11 Nov 1834 – 17 Feb 1872), son of Henry John Pye and Mary Anne Walker of Clifton Campville, Staffordshire. Charles Colquhoun Pye was not the recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Charles Pye's birth date is unknown. His baptism occurred on 24 September 1820 at St Mary's church, Castle Church, Staffordshire. Charles was probably a few months old when he was baptised. His death certificate and obituary state he was 56 years old when he died, which suggests he was born prior to July 1820.
Pye was commissioned into the 53rd Foot in 1858. He became adjutant in 1859 and was promoted lieutenant in 1861. He retired in 1862. He, his wife and stepdaughter emigrated to New Zealand in August 1862. He was commissioned as Inspector & captain into the Colonial Defence Force (or New Zealand Militia), taking part in active operations during the Maori Wars.
After settling in Papakura and Karaka Hill, New Zealand, Charles Pye actually died in Australia on 12 July 1876, aged 56 whilst visiting his father in Kirkstall, Victoria. He was taken ill with bronchitis which proved fatal and was buried in the Tower Hill cemetery at Koroit near Warrnambool. The farming locality of Pyes Pa, south of Tauranga, is named after him. Memorials honouring Captain Pye can be found at Stafford, UK (his birthplace) and Kirkstall near Koroit, Victoria (his deathplace).
- "No. 22212". The London Gazette. 24 December 1858. p. 5513.
- "medal, decoration". Auckland War Memorial Museum. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- The Victoria Cross to the 53rd Regiment : India 1857-58
- "New Zealand History online". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Burial location of Charles Pye "Victoria, Australia"
- News item "Charles Pye's Victoria Cross donated to the Auckland Museum"