Let’s remember war hero

St Michael's Church, Alnwick
St Michael's Church, Alnwick

A gallant soldier who fought in a series of major battles should be honoured in the town where he is buried as part of upcoming commemorations, community history buffs have said.

Alnwick Family History Society is calling for the heroic actions of Sergeant James Doyle to be remembered, with the looming 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

Sgt Doyle, who is buried in the town’s St Michael’s churchyard, was embroiled in the deadly 1815 conflict in Belgium. The battle, which left nearly 30,000 dead, was just one chapter in Sgt Doyle’s military story, which spanned nearly five decades.

Society chairman Dudley George said: “Sgt Doyle’s service record is amazing. Besides fighting at Waterloo, as his gravestone says, he served in no less than seven other major battles. After a further 14-year posting in the New World, he completed nearly 50 years of continuous service to our country with a spell in the Northumberland Regiment, based in Alnwick.

“As well as deserving our respect, his grave represents a potential point of visitor interest to the town, especially this year with a number of national Waterloo events planned.”

Drummer Boy Doyle was 14 when he was recruited into the 40th Regiment of Foot from Ireland in 1809.

He served the British Army in battles against Napoleon’s armies in the Peninsular War across Europe. In 1815, Doyle, then a Private, fought in the Battle of Waterloo.

Another link with Alnwick was that the news of victory was rushed to London by an exhausted Major Henry Percy, who had not slept for a week by the time he delivered the captured enemy standards to the Prince Regent.

After surviving Waterloo, Doyle was posted to the East Indies and, after 14 years, was pensioned off on the sum of one shilling and 10 pence a day, but almost immediately joined the Jersey Militia in St Helier.

He then joined the Northumberland Regiment stationed in Alnwick in 1852. He died in 1856 of disease of the lungs, liver and kidneys.