KINGSLEY CONAN DOYLE (1892-1918)
A series of approximately 98 autograph letters signed and 6 autograph postcards signed to Sir Arthur and Lady (Jean) Conan Doyle, at Sandroyd (his prep school), Eton, Hanover and Lausanne (finishing schools) and on military service with the Hampshire Regiment in Gibraltar, Malta, Chelsea, Gosport, Lyndhurst, the Western Front and St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, the majority n.d. [c.1900-1918]; together with a photograph of Kingsley in uniform, a telegram with the news of his being wounded (7 July 1916), 8 letters and one telegram (from King Manuel of Portugal) of condolence, and a document of 24 November 1922 accompanying his posthumous War and Victory Medals; with related documents.
Conan Doyle wrote of his eldest son that 'his one fault is his extreme secretiveness', and his letters to his father to some extent reflect this guarded personality. The letters from his schooldays react to family events, include his father's impending marriage ('I am so glad to hear the good news, especially as Miss Leckie is such a nice and kind person'), and ask about the progress of his father's various projects ('I hope the Edalji case is going well'); at Hanover there are accounts of the alcoholic and swindling schoolmaster; and at Lausanne he reports a meeting with 'your friend Mr J. Ryan', who invites him to Zermat.
From the early days of the Great War, he shows a marked eagerness to see active service ('I feel that under the present circumstances I should take a commission'); the first years of the War bring generally cheerful reports of life at the front (though in December 1915 he is fretful at being assigned duties as a recruiting officer), and reaction to other war news (he is 'Very sorry to hear we are forced to retaliate with Gases'). After being wounded in early July 1916 he is forced to have an 'X Ray photo of my neck as the remaining wound is a little slow in healing'. After training at the First Army Scouting, Observation and Sniping School (where he was described as 'one of the best officers who have been here'), he was appointed in August 1917 as Battalion Intelligence Officer and Bombing Officer, with responsibility for composing the Brigade Intelligence Summary and reports with clear enjoyment of his observations of 'the unsuspecting Bosch' -- 'My work is extraordinarily interesting'; 'All new aerial photos come to me'; in one undated letter he thanks his parents for a new telescope, 'so we can see a lot and it is a bit of Sherlock Holmes work to piece it all together'. By November that year, he reluctantly agrees to be transferred to a medical college for a fast-track completion of his medical studies. A letter to his parents in January 1918 shows marked scepticism about Spiritualism; a letter annotated by Jean as his last refers to his father's departure for the Australian Front, 'It will help Daddy with his history'.
Kingsley Conan Doyle died of influenza on 28 October 1918. A former junior officer under his command wrote to his parents that he was 'a fine example to us young subalterns of what an officer should be: in conduct, in energy & in cheerfulness'.