Topic: Stolen Valour
Posed as Winner of Victoria Cross (1918)
"Sergt. Boyd, V.C.," Arrested on Suspicion at Instance of Montreal Authorities
Was at Windsor Hotel
Gazette Reporter Who Interviewed Him Doubted Bonfides—Enquiries Led To Arrest at Buffalo
The Montreal Gazette, 23 March 1918
Major Phil. McKenzie, M.C., who was recently appointed assistant provost marshal here has just signalized his appointment by the arrest at Buffalo of a man who was posing as "Sergt. R.F. Boyd, V.C.," of the Princess Patricias, and who is suspected of being a fraud. "Boyd' posed at the Windsor Hotel as a hero who had won the Victoria Cross and other decorations while serving in France. He gave an interview to a military reporter of the Gazette, who doubted the man's bonafides, but did not allow his to guess the fact. Apparently the man was anxious to get a story in the Gazette for use in his career across the line, because he gave his future address, in order that copies of the paper with his interview might be forwarded to him there, giving an address at the Hotel Statler, Buffalo. This led to the arrest.
He left for the train the moment he had given the interview. He showed his medal strips and returned soldier's badge, and insisted on opening his grip to exhibit his uniform, which bore the insignia of the P.P.C.L.I., and had evidently seen hard service. In addition to this he exhibited an officer's silver wrist identification disk, engraved with his name and number, although he only claimed to be a sergeant.
Letter from Sir Sam
Finally, "Sergeant Boyd, V.C.," produced a letter purporting to be from Sir Sam Hughes warmly commending his work for the Red Cross, and recommending him for further similar work. The letter was signed, "Yours very sincerely, Sir Sam Hughes,' The Gazette reporter was an old friend of Sir Sam's, and doubted the signature, while, of course, the ex-Minister of Militia never signs himself as "Sir Sam Hughes."
Considering these things, the reporter communicated with the Provost Marshal, who finally located the man by telegraph at the Hotel Statler at Buffalo. Major McKenzie then wired a full description of the man, with evidence as to the story he had told here, to the military authorities at Toronto, and an officer from there was despatched by the first train to Buffalo, where he found "Boyd, V.C.,' still at the Hotel Statler.
Placed Under Arrest
Every assistance was given to the Canadian officer by the American authorities, and he promptly secured the arrest of "Boyd, V.C." when an examination of the prisoner's effects showed that he was still wearing the medal ribbons and his returned soldier's badge, and still had the complete sergeant's outfit in his kit with the P.P.C.L.I. badges. In the meantime the records had been searched, and the authorities found that there had been no such sergeant in the original Princess Patricias, nor had any soldier of the name he was travelling under ever won either the Victoria Cross or any of the other decorations he was sporting.
The man was brought over the border yesterday and put under arrest at Camp Niagara. His trial will take place at Toronto, in Military District No. 3.
"Sergt. Boyd, V.C.," told a graphic story here to The Gazette reporter, giving a particularly vivid account of how he saved 16 wounded men under heavy fire at Hooge, when he was finally badly wounded in the knee and shot through the left shoulder.
It was for this action that he claimed to have been awarded the Victoria Cross, and his story was somewhat borne out by a very male knee and a bullet mark on his ribs, which he insisted on showing the reporter. The "Sergeant" then gave an account of how he had been given the V.C. by the King, and how the Princess Mary had even kissed him. He declared this had occurred in France, and that he received his V.C. at the same time as Major Bishop. He also claimed to be going to the Southern States on an extended lecturing tour under the auspices of the American Red Cross. There have been instances in the States of men masquerading as heroes.