Kaye, Laurence Christopher

He was the second son of William Astell Kaye (H 1885-90) of Crabbes Hill, Hatfield Peverel, Chelmsford, Essex. His mother was Florence Phoebe Kaye, the daughter of Walter Johnson, of Arncliffe Hall, Northallerton, and he was the brother of Joseph Peverel Kaye (H 1930-1935).

He entered Culver’s Close from Twyford School in January 1932, bringing with him a great reputation as an athlete. Though he never perhaps fulfilled his promise, he gained his 2nd XI Colours at cricket and soccer, and played for Commoner VI. He became a School Prefect and in his last term was head of his House.

As Treasurer of the Natural History Society at School he was largely instrumental in founding the Nature Reserve in memory of Viscount Grey of Fallodon (C 1876-1880) and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the outbreak of World War 1.  It was his idea to call it Fallodon, the name by which it is still known.

After a year at Magdalene College, Cambridge, he came down following his mother’s death in 1939. He spent eighteen months in the City, joining the City of London Yeomanry and lived at 52 Marlborough Place, London. At the outbreak of war he took a commission in the Essex Regiment, gaining promotion to Captain in 1941.

During his service in Iraq and Persia he maintained his interest in the ornithology of the Middle East.  He sailed for Italy in September 1943, landing at Taranto with 19 (Indian) Infantry Brigade, part of 8th (Indian) Division.

By 18th November they were in the town of Archi, which gave excellent observation over the valley as far as the mouth of the River Sangro, and where a reconnaissance revealed, as one officer put it “the lie of the land is distinctly Boche”.

On November 23rd, 19 Brigade, with 1/5 Essex, were in action. It had been decided to establish a bridgehead eight miles inland from Mozzagrogna. At 0300 hours on the morning of November 23rd 3/8 Punjabis waded the Sangro in a silent attack, to seize a high, wooded knoll at Calvario on the north bank of the river. One hundred yards short of the crest the alarm was given, and enemy machine-guns and tanks opened fire. Artillery fire drove off the Panzers, and the leading Punjabis stalked the machine-guns and destroyed them.    The crest was won.

1/5 Essex followed across the river in pouring rain. New Zealand engineers had stretched a rope from bank to bank, and two Sappers stood in the bed of the stream for hours, securing it against the current in order that the waders might have a steady guideline. By dawn the Essexes were mustered on the far bank, and at the height of the storm that raged that night launched an attack on a three-company front on the right of the Calvario knoll.  The Essexes were met by heavy machine-gun fire. In spite of many casualties they  forged ahead and established themselves in houses on the fringe of Calvario village. A group of enemy soldiers dashed to the counter-attack at the moment when Private Bishop, an Essex machine-gunner, appeared with his weapon at an upper window. The bulk target was a marksman’s dream, and Bishop broke the rush single-handed.

But one of the casualties in this attack was Kaye. Aged twenty-five, he was shot by a sniper, while leading his company. He had won the MC earlier in 1943, and rests in grave XVII.D.3 of the Sangro River War Cemetery.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Kaye
  • Forenames or initials: Laurence Christopher
  • House: H
  • Years in School: 1932-1937
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: Essex Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 1st November 1918
  • Date of Death: 23rd November 1943
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner A1
  • Decoration: MC
  • Burial Site: Sangro River War Cemetery: Grave XVII.D.3