With Memorial Day soon upon us, we turn our attention to one of the men who gave his own life so that a fellow soldier could live. According to a news story published in The Sun on Jan. 8, 1919, the mother of Sgt. Meredith Dunkerly reported that her son, who is recovering from multiple wounds in a hospital in New York, stated that “in the latter part of September their tank was struck by an antitank gun and disabled. In abandoning it Sergeant Dunkerley was picked off by a sniper and fell wounded. Sergeant [Martin] Doyle carried him to a shell hole through an intense shellfire and to the trenches, but returned shortly afterward to carry him in.”
While rendering assistance, Doyle was struck with a hand grenade and killed instantly. Dunkerley told his mother that Doyle’s body fell across him and they lay there for two days before being found.
The family learned of Doyle’s death by a War Department telegram that his sisters, who lived on Melrose Avenue, received, informing them that he had been killed in action in France on Sept. 29, 1918. Doyle, a member of the Heavy Tank Division, was 28 years old.
Before being drafted into service, Doyle served as vice president of the Catonsville Volunteer Hose Company and was named its mechanician. He was well known in amateur baseball circles as a pitcher and regarded as the team’s “iron man.”
He attended St. Mark’s parochial school and was the son of the late Patrolman Terrance Doyle. Survivors included four sisters and two brothers.
Doyle trained at what was then known as Camp Meade, where he was assigned to the Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry. A call went out for volunteers to join the Tank division and he was among the first to respond.
Doyle was sent to England for training and, according to a Dec. 11, 1918 newspaper account in The Sun, “enjoyed the distinction of being congratulated by the King and Queen of England during one of their visits to the camp.”
In the family’s last letter from Doyle dated several days before that fateful day, Doyle wrote that he was “in No Man’s Land with his division and that the shots and shells were flying fast about him.”
The battle in which Doyle sacrificed his life would have been among the last waged by the Allies as the end of World War I—“the war to end all wars”—drew to a close with the signing of the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.
Thanks go to Bryce Rumbles, librarian at the Catonsville Branch, and Lisa Vicari, Catonsville Room volunteer and board member, Friends of the Catonsville Library, for their research assistance. Anyone interested in ordering digital reprints of any of the historical images featured in this series, should contact Bryce Rumbles at email@example.com.