By Lord Ashcroft
First published in Britain at War in May 2019.
Company Sergeant Major Martin Doyle VC, MM
This month’s special iteration of Hero of the Month from World War One presents a difficult and provocative historiographical question; how does – or indeed, should – a figure’s actions after the event alter or preclude perceptions of previous courage and gallantry and its commemoration?
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Victoria Cross recipients tend to lead adventurous lives both on and off the battlefield. However, few can have led such challenging and complex lives as Company Sergeant Major Martin Doyle. His irrefutable courage in the service of the Crown was honoured with the conferring of the Victoria Cross. But, Doyle is a controversial VC-awardee who is unique among his gallant peers, as, within a year of the announcement of his VC, he was fighting against the very country that had bestowed the award upon him. (more…)