The Minute Book
Monday, 5 September 2016

Stolen Valour: Won Five Medals Now Washes Windows
Topic: Stolen Valour

Won Five Medals Now Washes Windows

The Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau, 12 December 1919
(By Associated Press)

New York, Dec. 11.—Awarded five decorations for gallantry as an airman during the war, including the prized Victoria Cross of the British Empire, Frank Percy, 26 years old, has been forced to wash windows for a living. His pay is $75 a month.

"I had to have a job," he said, "so I started on the first one that was offered. It may have been offered as a joke, but it was no joke on me." Percy, as an Acting Major of the Royal Air Force, won the Victoria Cross when he commanded a squadron of six planes which brought down a score of German machines on the western front. He also is entitled to wear the French War Cross, Mons Medal, General Service Medal and Victory Medal.

 

elipsis graphic

Fact-Checking:

Frank Percy does not appear on the list of Victoria Cross recipients of the Royal Air Force.

The only Victoria Cross recipient named "Percy" was General Lord Henry Hugh Manvers Percy VC, KCB, who received the VC for valour at the Battle of Inkerman on 5 November 1854.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 August 2016 9:05 PM EDT
Friday, 26 August 2016

Buys Hero Medals to Win Girl; In Jail Now
Topic: Stolen Valour

Buys Hero Medals to Win Girl; In Jail Now

Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania 13 August 1930

Detroit, Aug. 13 (AP).—Benjamin Lee couldn't win his girl's love with his resplendent theatre usher's uniform, so he bought some medals, won the girl, and today he is in jail as a bogus hero.

Dined and honored by Detroit veterans' organizations as one of Michigan's war heroes, Benjamin, a theatre usher, appeared wearing the Croix de Guerre, the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Congressional Medal of Honor. He told lurid stories of his part in the war.

Some of the veterans became suspicious. They figured out that Benjamin would have been about 12 years old when the war started.

Department of Justice agents questioned Benjamin and he confessed that his tales of heroism were designed to win the love of a girl who is now his wife. He said he purchased the medals from veterans who were "short on cash," and that after his marriage his wife carried on the tales of heroism until the affair got out of his control.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 20 August 2016

Sergeant Boyd--V.C. Imposter--Gets His Due
Topic: Stolen Valour

Sergeant Boyd—V.C. Imposter—Gets His Due

On 26 June 2016, we shared the story of the arrest of "Sergt. Boyd" for masquerading as a Victoria Cross recipient. That story had been published in the Montreal Gazette on 23 March 1918. Here is the result of Boyd's court appearance, published in a Florida newspaper on 2 April 1918.

elipsis graphic

Boyd Gets Seven Years

The Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, 2 April 1918

Information has been received here that the man known in this city as "Sergeant Boyd," claiming to be of the Princess Pat Canadian Regiment, has been convicted in Canada of impersonating another and wearing army medals illegally, and has been sentenced at hard labor for seven years. Boyd lectured here and was arrested here as an imposter, but was released on condition that he leave this country. He is said to have tried to resume his operations in the United States and was nabbed by the Canadian officers.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2016 8:45 AM EDT
Thursday, 14 July 2016

Stolen Valour, 1931; Imposter Fined
Topic: Stolen Valour

Imposter Fined

Military Rank Assumed

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 19 September 1931

Adelaide, Friday.—James Gilbert Low admitted in Adelaide Police Court to-day that he had unlawfully made use of the military decorations M.V.O. and M.C., and had assumed the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was fined £10 on each of two charges, with £2/10/ costs.

The assistant police prosecutor (Mr. J.P. Walsh) informed the court that two police officers told Low that the military records did not show the name of Lieutenant-Colonel J.G. Low. He denied that he had ever told anyone that he was a lieutenant-colonel or a major. He admitted that he might have allowed others to introduce him as a lieutenant-colonel after he had a few drinks, and said "It was just for swank." He said he was a captain.

The police showed him a prospectus of a company in which he was described as Captain J. Gilbert Low, M.C., D.C.M., R.E., and asked him what was his motive. He replied, "Nothing."

The police found in Low's rooms a photograph of the Governor of Queensland shaking hands with Low and bearing the words, "Governor of Queensland greeting an old comrade, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Gilbert Low, M.V.O., M.C., D.C.M., R.E., one of the survivors who held Delville Wood with the South African Brigade for 13 days against 14 German divisions.'

There was also a framed letter from the pricate secretary, Government House, Brisbane, which stated:—"The Duchess of York has read your letter with the greatest interest, and regrets that she did not have an opportunity of seeing you. The Duchess sends you her warmest regards for your welfare."

Low admitted to the police that he had been introduced to Lord Baden Powell as a lieutenant-colonel.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 26 June 2016

Posed as Winner of Victoria Cross (1918)
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.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 June 2016 4:19 PM EDT

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