Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The June issue of magazine has four pages on the life and career of Company Sergeant Major Martin Doyle VC, MM, who, within a year of the announcement of his main decoration, was fighting against the very country that had bestowed the award upon him.
Doyle was born in October 1894 in the village of Gusserane, close to the Co Wexford town of New Ross, which was once home to members of the famous US Kennedy family. He was the son of Larry Doyle, a farmer struggling to make a living off the land, and his wife Bridget.
He joined the Royal Irish Regiment on Boxing Day 1909 and was given service number 9962. At the time, he had only recently turned 15 but he lied to the authorities that he was two years older.
In September 1918, he was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for bravery earlier that year. And in January 1919, he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery at Riencourt, France, on September 2 1918, when he led a daring and effective attack on the enemy after they had surrounded some of his comrades.
However, the Ireland that Doyle returned to after the Great War was very different to the one he had left, and he was soon recruited to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), spying on the British when possible.
Doyle died of polio in November 1940 at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital in Dublin, aged 46. By then, he was married with three daughters. He is understandably a highly-controversial figure but he is considered a hero in his Irish homeland.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past six years have been largely based on excerpts from his six books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes and Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the June issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.