Ted Doyle MM

2nd Royal Fusiliers

Ted Doyle, who has died aged 90, won a Military Medal in Italy in 1944 for single-handedly saving his section from an enemy assault.

On the night of August 1/2 the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers was advancing towards a low ridge near Strada, a town on the still strongly held Gothic Line. The Fusiliers had to approach along a road that had been heavily mined and came under machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire.

Doyle was in the leading section of the platoon in the company at the head of the advance when, at about 11pm, it came under fire from a light machine gun. This was immediately followed by intense small arms fire from the flanks, making it possible for seven or eight of the enemy to rush Doyle’s section of 11 men.

It was he who first saw the Germans coming. Although the bright moonlight made him an easy target, Doyle remained alone in the open, firing his Bren gun from his hip. He repelled the enemy attack, killing or wounding at least five. According to the citation for his MM, it was his coolness, initiative and courage that allowed his section to be extricated and rejoin the remainder of the platoon.

A few months later, still during the fighting on the Gothic Line, Doyle was taking cover upstairs in a house which took a direct hit from a tank. He was blown through the wall and so badly wounded that those around him thought he was dying. He had a fractured skull, serious leg wounds, and lost a finger and part of a thumb. He was taken to a nearby field hospital for emergency treatment; later one of his lungs had to be removed.

Douglas Edward Doyle was born on Christmas Eve 1922 at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, one of 11 children whose father had served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Gallipoli and was gassed and wounded on the Western Front. The family was poor, and often relied on the Salvation Army for food. On Sundays, Ted would rise early to accompany his father and brother to steal vegetables from nearby fields. He was only 11 when he started work, and gave his wage to his mother, keeping one penny a week for pocket money.

He was employed as an ironworks scrap cutter when he signed up with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in June 1940. After transferring to the Royal Fusiliers he was posted to Algiers. Before winning his MM, he took part in the battle of Monte Cassino.

Doyle left the Army in 1945 and took numerous jobs before becoming a foreman safety officer in the petrochemical industry. Despite the severity of his war wounds, he remained a keen sportsman, becoming player-manager of the Octal football team in the local North-West League. He also coached young people in judo, qualified as an amateur athletics coach and was a track and field judge .

Ted Doyle married, in 1945, Margaret Audrey Boyd. She died in 1998, and he is survived by their daughter and two sons.

Ted Doyle in 2011 greeting a serving German general on a visit to the site of the first Battle of the Marne
Ted Doyle, born December 24 1922, died January 18 2013