Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Captain Arthur Alleyne Kingsley Conan Doyle, 1st Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment, died during the influenza pandemic which swept through the world from earlier that year until the end of 1920.
The son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the physician and creator of Sherlock Holmes, he was educated at Sandroyd School and Eton College. He then attended St. Mary’s Hospital School in London, but at the outbreak of the Great War he interrupted his studies to join the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving as a private with the 1st/1st City of London Field Ambulance as a driver.
He saw service in Malta until March of 1915, and was then recalled to train with the Officers’ Training Corps at Cambridge, then commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment. Captain Conan Doyle was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Somme on the 1st of July in 1916 and was sent home to recuperate, returning to the front in October of that year. The following year he saw action during the Battle of Passchendaele.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had visited the front in 1916, and recalled: “Next day we travelled through Acheux and hit the British line once more….as we swung into the broad main street of a village there was a tall young officer standing with his back turned. He swung round at the noise of the car, and it was my boy Kingsley with his usual jolly grin upon his weather-stained features. The long arm of G.H.Q. had stretched out and plucked him out of a trench, and there he was. We had an hour's talk in a field, for there was nowhere else to go. He was hard and well and told me that all was nearly ready for a big push at the very part of the line where his battalion, the 1st Hampshires, was stationed. This was the first intimation of the great Somme battle, on the first day of which every officer of the Hampshires without exception was killed or wounded. I learned afterwards that before the battle for ten nights running Kingsley crept out to the German wire and stuck up crosses where he found the wire uncut, which were brown towards the enemy and white towards the British, as a guide to the gunners. He lay on his face sometimes with the machine guns firing just above him. For this service Colonel Palk thanked him warmly and said he should certainly have a decoration, but Palk and both majors were killed and no recommendations went forward. Two shrapnel bullets in the neck were all Kingsley got out of the battle, and two months on his back in a hospital. However, he was not a medal hunter and I never heard him complain, nor would he wear his wound badges until he was compelled.” He is buried in St. Luke’s Churchyard, Grayshott, Hampshire.
Kingsley, from London, was 24 years old.