Albert’s extraordinary war story starts with the report of his death in the Shipley Times & Express on 18 October 1918:General sympathy will be felt for Cllr and Mrs T F Doyle of 30 George Street, Saltaire, in the second loss they have sustained in the war.All their four sons enlisted and on 8th May 1915, one of them, Pte T H Doyle, KOYLI, fell at Ypres.They have now been officially informed that another son, acting Platoon Sgt Albert Doyle, Duke of Wellington’s Regt, aged 24, was killed in action on 30th September.He worked at Saltaire Mills and answered his country’s call at the outbreak of the war.A couple of months ago we announced that he had been wounded a second time and was in
a hospital overseas.Of the two surviving sons of Mr and Mrs Doyle, L Cpl Arthur Doyle, Royal Fusiliers, was dangerously wounded in the head on 25th July and is still in hospital. Harold Doyle, who enlisted at the age of 18, is training with the Leicestershire Regt.Mr and Mrs Doyle have received the following letter from one of the deceased’s N.C.O.s:“I write you a few lines to express the deepest sympathy of the N.C.O.s and men of the platoon.“The battalion was ordered to attack on 29th September. The attack was very successful.
“Your son was with me on reaching our objective and was in very good spirits having led his section in a gallant manner.“I was ordered to do other duties and your son took my place as platoon sergeant. His officer was ordered to get into touch with troops on our left and your son went with him.“They had not gone more than 100 yards when the enemy opened fire and your son was killed instantaneously by rifle fire.“A light consolation to you in your sad bereavement is that your son behaved splendidly during the
aforesaid operation and in an operation previously.“He was buried two days later at the same spot that he was killed.”The parents have also received the following letter from the officer commanding:“It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son. We had reached our objectives and Doyle had done splendidly and at the time was acting platoon sergeant.“Afterwards your son and myself were sent out on patrol to get into touch with a platoon that had been isolated on our left and when close to a German machine gun post, we were heavily fired on and to my great regret, I found your son was shot.“I, as platoon officer, feel that I have lost one of my best N.C.O.s”
Less than a month later, on 8 November, the local paper reported a remarkable follow up story:The recent official news of the death in action on 30th September of a Shipley soldier was falsified under remarkable circumstances on Tuesday morning.Cllr and Mrs T F Doyle of 30 George Street, Saltaire, received a postcard from their son, Acting Platoon Sgt Albert Doyle, Duke of Wellington’s Regt, aged 24, who used to work at Saltaire Mills, stating that he was wounded and was a prisoner of war in Germany.There can be no mistake as to the soldier being alive as the car is in his handwriting and he adds that he is doing well and is ‘very well cared for.’As the family never doubted the accuracy of the official descriptions of their son’s death, it can be imagined how the message from their boy turned their sorrow into joy and thankfulness.
Numerous condolences, public and private, have reached Mr and Mrs Doyle since their ‘loss’ was announced and they had also received the two following letters.On from the officer commanding said: “it is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son. We had reached our objectives and Doyle had done splendidly.“Afterwards your son and myself were sent out on patrol to get into touch with a platoon that had been isolated on our left and when close to a German machine gun post we were heavily fired on and to my great regret I found your son was shot.“I, as platoon officer, feel that I have lost one of my best NCOs.”The other letter from an NCO stated: “I write you a few lines to express the deepest sympathy of the NCOs and men of the platoon.“The battalion was ordered to attack on 29th September. The attack was very successful. Your
son was with me on reaching our objective and was in very good spirits having led his section in a gallant manner.“I was ordered to do other duties and your son took my place as platoon sergeant. His officer was ordered to get into touch with troops on hour left and your son went with him.“They had not gone more than 100 yards when the enemy opened fire and your won was killed instantaneously by rifle fire.“A slight consolation to you in your sad bereavement is that your son behaved splendidly during the aforesaid operation and in an operation previously.“He was buried two days later at the same spot that he was killed.”Cllr Doyle was congratulated on his good news at a meeting of the Shipley Trades and Labour Council on Tuesday night, the members applauding the announcement and Cllr Doyle thanked them for their kindly feelings.
Finally, Albert gets home and is able to tell his story, not only of his ‘death’ but his complete incident-packed war:Reported killed last September under circumstances which afterwards fully explained how the mistake occurred, L Cpl Albert Doyle, Duke of Wellington’s Regt and second son of Cllr and Mrs T F Doyle, of 30 George Street, Saltaire, as given the story of his remarkable adventure to the Times & Express man.It reads like a page from fiction.L Cpl Doyle, who has been a prisoner of war, returned to his home on Wednesday evening, 1st January, Ripon Camp, having arrived at Hull on 29th December after an absence of 15 months.He joined up on 25th October 1914 at the age of 19 and was in training camps at Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and Salisbury Plain.Finally, he left Bedford for France on 5th February 1917, landing at Le Havre and had his first experience of the trenches at Beaumont Hamel on the Somme.Barley waterThe Germans retired before our forces to the Hindenburg Line and in the advance Cpl Doyle was wounded in the chest by a hand bomb on 21st March 1917.After a bad time at the clearing station he was taken to No 12 Genera Hospital at Rouen where he was treated and, after existing about six weeks on barley water, he began to improve and was immediately shipped to England.At Lord Derby’s War Hospital at
Warrington he recovered and was sent to a convalescent camp at Lytham.After a short leave at his home, he was sent out to the front again on 5th December 1917 and following a short spell at the base, he returned to the trenches, this time at Vimy Ridge.All went well till 20th March when word came to move to Arras because the Germans had started a strong offensive.Here our men had a terrible time and much hard fighting. The Boche was held up and Doyle, after eight days’ close conflict, was sent back to the battalion just behind the lines.His harrowing experiences at this point were such that he hesitates to describe them.Things proceeded quietly till ‘Jerry’ made another big movement all along the front in July but he was unsuccessful and what was intended to be an advance was turned into a retreat by the British strong counter-attack and this was undoubtedly the turning point.From Arras the battalion was sent down to Rheims where it again came into action on 20th July. The British reached all their objectives.In following up the British advance Doyle and a pal of his were wounded. A very unusual thing
happened. He was taken to precisely the same hospital as when he was wounded the first time. The injury on this occasion was a slight shrapnel wound in the thigh.He was sent to Trouville Convalescent Camp and was quickly ready for action again, rejoining the same battalion on the Somme front.CambraiAfter a week with the battalion he was ordered up the line and was in the memorable attack at Cambrai.All objectives were reached but unfortunately a company of the battalion was isolated on their left.Along with a platoon officer, Doyle was sent out on patrol to establish communication with the isolated company. There the two had a very exciting time.In endeavouring to accomplish the object they had the ill luck to bump up against a German machine gun position. The Germans opened fire point blank.Doyle and the officer retaliated with Mills Bombs and Doyle is under the impression that the result was the total extermination of the enemy crew.Doyle had a miraculous escape. Three of the machine bullets hit him – one on the check, one on the side and the other on the elbow –
and in the darkness he was separated from his officer.Stunned and dazed he lost his way and in trying to regain his line, stumbled into a German post and was taken prisoner.Red CrossHe was sent back behind the German lines to hospital and thence to Hemeln in Germany.The date of his capture was 30th September. At Hameln the British prisoners were given very bad food but their experience was modified by parcels of food through the agency of the Red Cross.Doyle remained at Hameln till 26th December when he was released with about 1,000 others and in under a week he was at home.The incident of 30th September, when Doyle was captured, led to a report being sent home that he had fallen and the exact locality of his grave was stated.The circumstances under which Doyle was separated from his officer were such as to justify the presumption that he had been killed.The officer himself, Lieut Reading, sent the news to Cllr and Mrs Doyle. The officer saw him fall and naturally concluded that he was shot dead.From Cpl Doyle, however, a welcome postcard came on 5th November which had been written on 1st October and the joy of knowing that their son was alive was compensation for the period of distress through which the parents had passed.