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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son.


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I don't think I knew that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son had died during the war. Just saw this when looking at Surgeon RN John Hadwen's death notice in the British Medical Journal, vol 2, issue 3019 (Nov 9, 1918), p. 528.



Doyle, Kingsley Conan, eldest son of Sir A. Conan Doyle M.D., died, aged 25, at St.Thomas's Hospital, on October 28th, of pneumonia after influenza. He was studying at St. Mary's Hospital when war began, and enlisted in the R.A.M.C. He left the army last May to resume his medical studies at St. Thomas's Hospital."


I looked at the Oxford DNB entry for Sir Arthur, which says "His son Kingsley died in 1918 from influenza aggravated by war wounds in the British army."

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It is often said that his son's death are what prompted him to become a spiritualist.

That is incorrect, as he had dabbled in it for many years prior to his son 's death.

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11 hours ago, seaJane said:

He was studying at St. Mary's Hospital when war began, and enlisted in the R.A.M.C.


If I've read his medal card correctly, it shows that he enlisted as a Private in the RAMC and served as a Driver

He later received a commission in the Hampshire Regiment and rose to be Captain 

see also https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Arthur_Alleyne_Kingsley_Conan_Doyle 

which includes several photographs and a copy of the MiC

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Hesketh Prichard says K. Conan Doyle was:-


"...one of the best observation officers we had at any time. Conan Doyle possessed an extraordinary facility for teaching and was most successful with one or two classes of Lovat Scouts which he took."


"It is tragic to think that when the order came out for all medical students to return to complete their studies, Cpt. Conan Doyle went back to England; there he contracted influenza and died. This has always seemed to me one of the saddest things of the war - to have gone through so much, to have rendered such good service, and finally to be struck down by the horrible influenza germ instead of the German shells among which he had walked about so unconcernedly."


Seems to me it would've been pretty sad either way.


Edited by MikB
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Good Afternoon


I have a book entitled Arthur Conan Doyle A Life in Letters edited by messrs. Lellenberg, Stashower and Foley. Essentially it consists of the contents of letters sent by ACD to his mother but it does contain extracts of letters he sent to others as well as those he received. The book was published in 2007 and the actual letters themselves are in the British Library. In the book it refers to Kinsley as having been seriously wounded on the 1st July 1916 and sent back to England to convalesce. He returned to the front in late January/early February 1917 doing duty at Regimental HQ as a bombing Officer and later as Battalion Intelligence Officer according to his letters to his father. In November 1917 he wrote to his father saying that he was to be sent home to continue his medical studies as he was a 4th year student who expected to qualify in 21 months. This followed an general order whereby all 3rd year Medical Students who could qualify in 36 months were to sent to the reserve or discharged. He was in England by January 1918. In October 1918 ACD wrote to his mother that Mary (daughter) and Kingsley have the flu. Whilst ACD was on a lecture tour in the Midlands he received a telegram from his daughter advising that Kingsley was dying.He carried on with his tour only to be told that Kingsley had died on 28th November. He was 2 weeks shy of his 26th Birthday.





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Thanks everyone for those additional contributions.

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