16 August 2011

Death of heroic Irish priest 94 years ago today in The Great War

Fr William Doyle SJ
3 March 1873 - 16 August 1917

This account of Father Willie Doyle's death in Ypres/Ieper, Belgium, while serving as a chaplain in the British Army during The Great War is from Father William Doyle S.J. by Professor Alfred O'Rahilly and taken from the blog Remembering Father William Doyle SJ. Fr Doyle was from Dalkey, County Dublin.


Fr. Doyle had been engaged from early morning in the front line, cheering and consoling his men, and attending to the many wounded. Soon after 3 p.m. he made his way back to the Regimental Aid Post which was in charge of a Corporal Raitt, the doctor having gone back to the rear some hours before. Whilst here word came in that an officer of the Dublins had been badly hit, and was lying out in an exposed position. Fr. Doyle at once decided to go out to him, and left the Aid Post with his runner, Private Mclnespie, and a Lieutenant Grant. Some twenty minutes later, at about a quarter to four, Mclnespie staggered into the Aid Post and fell down in a state of collapse from shell shock. Corporal Raitt went to his assistance and after considerable difficulty managed to revive him. His first words on coming back to consciousness were: “Fr. Doyle has been killed!” Then bit by bit the whole story was told. Fr. Doyle had found the wounded officer lying far out in a shell crater. He crawled out to him, absolved and anointed him, and then, half dragging, half carrying the dying man, managed to get him within the line. Three officers came up at this moment, and Mclnespie was sent for some water. This he got and was handing it to Fr. Doyle when a shell burst in the midst of the group, killing Fr. Doyle and the three officers instantaneously, and hurling Mclnespie violently to the ground. Later in the day some of the Dublins when retiring came across the bodies of all four. Recognising Fr. Doyle, they placed him and a Private Meehan, whom they were carrying back dead, behind a portion of the Frezenberg Redoubt and covered the bodies with sods and stones.


On 14 August Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ carried a photo of his last letter to his father, written two days before his death. Read the full post here.

I first learned about Father Willie Doyle from Sister Stanislaus, the Irish Sister of Charity who was principal of the boys' kindergarten I attended in Stanhope St, Dublin. She also prepared us for First Holy Communion. I learned mor about him in my first year in St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, when I entered the seminary there 50 years ago. Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ is a blog that is a work of love and a reminder to me of what a priest is called to be,


2 comments:

Recorder said...

We featured Fr. Doyle's prayer for Priests as part of our Holy Year devotions:

http://catholicheritage.blogspot.com/2009/06/opening-of-new-holy-year.html

http://catholicheritage.blogspot.com/2010/06/closing-of-holy-year-for-priests.html

And also on our vocations blog:

http://tradvocations.blogspot.com/2009/06/rev-william-doyle-sj-mc.html

diddleymaz said...

The example of good Holy Priests like this one are inspirational to all. Thank you Father for sharing with me in your comment on my own blogg. May your father rest in peace.
My Mum used to like how the Sally Army called dieing ,Promotion to Glory, and once when I asked her what her motto was, (goodness only know why!) she said without hesitating Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart,with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself.