I am grateful to The Truth is Back There for pointing out that buried in the Private Papers of Viscount Davidson at the House of Lords was a curious 2 page typed manuscript marked the Career of “X”. The document tells of a confidential investigation into the exploits of an unknown but influential anti-communist insider at the heart of 1920’s Government circles. The author of the blog believes that X is David Boyle. Boyle was a close friend of Sir Stewart Menzies and George VI. Boyle at the centre of an US-British spy row in 1920 which blighted Anglo-American relations until 1940. The X document was clearly hostile to Boyle and seems to have originated from sources close to MI5 circa 1922-23, possibly Joseph Ball who was in communication with Davidson at the time.
Boyle has written his autobiography, but it is superficial, concentrating on shooting grouse, rather than his real reasons for being in a country at a particular time. And his wife has published a book on her year on the Gold Coast with him
1883 Sep 1. Born Chelsea, St Georges, Hanover Sq. His father Henry David Boyle (1856-1917) was director of Dawnay Day, Giant Mines of Rhodesia, Russian Mining Corporation, Lena Goldmines. He is believed to have been a cousin of the Earl of Glasgow.
1883 Oct 2 baptised
1890 Went to Boarding School at Westgate on Sea.
1891 census a visitor at Wilford House, Wilford, Nottingham.
1893 Jan Moved to The Grange School, Folkstone
1898 Jan Moved to Wellington School.
1901 census at Wellington School, Crowthorne, a boarder.
1902 Jul. Left Wellington School.
1902 Oct. New College Oxford. He did not finish his degree, and left after one year to cram for Civil Service exams, but with the intention of returning to Oxford after a year. However a friend of the family offered him the job in China during his break from studying, and he decided to take the opportunity
1904 Jul 28 . He leaves London for Peking for a job with the Chinese Customs Service. The whole operation was British run
1904 Sep 15 Arrives in Peking and spends the winter there socialising and doing a clerical job.
1905 Apr. Transferred to Wuhu on the Yangtze. The customs post consisted of a Commissioner and 5 assistants, of whom Boyle was the junior. He found the work "disappointingly easy" checking and passing duty sheets. By autumn he had had a bout of dysentery and was feeling cut off from home, and concluded that the Chinese Custom Service was not for him, and asked to leave.
1906 Jan 13 Embarks on SS Palawan to return to UK, arriving Mar 3rd. He was apprehensive about his future. His father was not well off, or at least not well off enough to offer him much financial support. His family connections managed to secure him a post in Ceylon with a man called Vizard on a rubber plantation.
1906 Apr 26. Leaves UK for Ceylon. On arrival he travelled from Colombo to Talagalla in the Kelani Valley on a narrow gauge train. Here he learnt rubber tapping and tea plucking. After tuition he moved on to work for R A Galtoon in Watawala. However he only stayed a short time on the estate, before moving back in August 1906 to a clerical job in Colombo, at a higher salary and better prospects.
1906 Nov 25. A few months later he received the offer of a job in Burma from an acquaintance in Ceylon, and left to take up a job with the Bombay Burma Timber Corp. Here he lived and worked up country clearing teak for export.
1910 One day in Spring he was sitting on his verandah when a runner arrived with an urgent telegram
"Will you accept position of Gold Staff Officer at Abbey next month? If so start at once as must be present rehearsals in early June.
He dropped everything, took the train to Rangoon, steamer top Calcutta, train across India to Bombay, ship to Port Said, another ship to Brindisi, and the mail train to Calais and London, where he arrived 12 Jun 1911. A gold Staff assisted the congregation to their seats, and there were about 100 of them.
1911 Jun 22. Coronation Day. He was certainly impressed by the richness of the uniforms and the pageantry of the occasion. He got engaged in the next two weeks, and returned to Burma to resign, but whilst there the lady cabled him breaking off the engagement. As he had resigned from the forestry job, he got, through his father, a clerical job with Burmah Oil Company in Rangoon
1911 Dec 26. Journal of Bombay Natural History Soc reports During our Christmas shoot at Tongyi, Mr. D. H. M. Boyle on 26th December was lucky enough to shoot one of a pair (female) of the above species. In the flesh the difference between it and the common Burmese Grey were most noticeable, and on comparison with a hen of that species the following points were note ...
1912 May. Burmah find him another job as political liaison officer in Tehran between Persian government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. And in July he is off there. However when he got to Basra, he discovered that someone else had been appointed, and that this news had never got to him. So back to London, where a contact got him an interview at the Colonial Office, which led to an appointment as an Assistant District Commissioner in the Gold Coast.
1912 Nov 27. Leaves UK for the Gold Coast "Lt D H M Boyle, soldier"
1912 ADC Gold Coast Priv Sec to Civil Commissioner of Ashanti at Coomassie.
1913 Apr. He moves to Kintampo in the Northern Provence as Assistant DC.
1913 Aug 12. He shoots his first lion, and narrowly escapes being killed himself by other lions.
1913 Sep He gets his first independent station a couple of days march from Coomassie
1914 Mar 9. Arrives in Plymouth on SS Appam from Sekondi . Occupation "civil servant". This is his first leave for over a year, and he has gone down with malarial fever, and has to visit Tropical Diseases Hospital in London on his return. He convalesced in France and return to UK where he met and fell in love with Laura Tennant
1914 Oct 13. He tries to join the Army, but the government will not let him, and he is ordered to return to Africa. Leaves UK for Gold Coast. He is a "Colonial Civil Servant"
1914 Oct 22. Boyle goes to Wenchi to relieve Johnstone Ashanti Diaries . He writes "the year 1915 passed quickly, hard work, constant travelling ..kept one busy and happy"
1916 Feb 19. Gets his next leave. Arrives in Liverpool from Seccondee in West Africa on SS Karina. His job is "Political Officer". He meets Laura to arrange their wedding
1916 Apr 27 Marries Laura Grant Tennant (married in Fairlie, Ayrshire, Scotland). They honeymoon in Scotland.
1916 Jul 19. Leaves UK for Seccondee with his wife. He is a "Colonial Civil Servant"
1916 Aug 4. Boyle and his new wife arrive in Seccondee and train to Ashanti, and from there a long overland trek to Wenchi, where they were based. He certainly remains in Wenchi until April 1917 doing the normal District Commissioner's job
1916 Sep 20. A local news report of him as "Acting District Commissioner" at Ashanti
1917 Apr 13. They are instructed to return to Accra, and reached there on 23 April. Boyle was now an Assistant Colonial Secretary in Accra
1917 Aug 3. They leave Accra to return to UK on leave, travel by sea was dangerous and many of the ships between West Africa and England were torpedoed.
1917 Aug 26. Arrives in Liverpool from Accra on SS Akabo. His job is "Political Officer". His address is Junior Carlton Club. His medical leads to him being told to take 4 months sick leave, but with the possibility of office work in London.
1917 Oct 22. Starts working as private secretary to Sir Everard Thurn who was looking after Fiji affairs. He got himself invalided out of Colonial Office and proceeded to get passed A1 to enter the army. My feeling is that it was soon after his return from Africa that he was recruited into SIS. His wife's detailed diary shows that they were deep in the African jungle until April 1917. The whole episode with the army is "odd", and looks like a cover being worked out by SIS
1918 Apr.29. He enlisted as a Private in the Artists Rifles. He underwent recruit training at Gidea Park Camp near Romford for 2 months.
1918 Jul 4. Passes out of the recruits camp, and posted to Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes in Scotland.
1919 Jan 18. Demobilised at Edinburgh Castle. He never therefore served as an officer, getting the rank on the day of demobilisation. His enquiries of family and friends had led to him getting an appointment as a Secretary in the Pensions Dept in London. Then decentralisation policy led him to opening a branch in Edinburgh by May 1919
1919 Mar 4 The undermentioned Cadet to be 2nd Lt, 4th Arg. & Suth'd Highrs. David Hugh Montgomerie Boyle appears in London Gazette.
1919 Aug "I was most suddenly and unexpectedly asked if I would accept a post in the United States under the foreign Office. Apparently more men of my age and experience were required to help in winding up the various missions which had been concentrated there during the war". It was intimated that this could lead to a permanent Foreign Office post.
1919 Oct 22. Arrives in New York from UK , with his wife on SS Celtic. They are travelling on Diplomatic Passports. He is an "official"
He says very little in his autobiography about his work, but does mention Maurice Jeffries being in charge of Passport affairs and Euan Wallace, a military attaché, as being a very close friend. In fact Wallace was another SIS operative, who is documented in Cave Brown's The Secret Servant
British secret service in New York. Accused of plotting to kidnap Eamon De Valera, President of Sinn Fein, who was living in the city, the state dept compelled the Foreign Office to withdraw Boyle’s mission. The Boyle mission was liquidated, and Boyle was sent to the staff of the Prince of Wales who was visiting Canada. (The Prince of Wales visit to Canada was Aug to Oct 1919, which would tie in with the closure of the SIS station in Aug 1919)
Once WW1 ended, the US was not prepared to co-operate in surveillance of Irish republicans in the US. de Valera arrived in the USA in Jun 1919. He had three aims: to ask for official recognition of the Irish Republic, to obtain a loan to finance the work of the new government and to secure the support of the American people for the republic. de Valera stayed in the USA until December 1920. The USA forced the SIS to close its station in August 1919 (British Spies, Irish Rebels, p113) but the SIS soon established a new operation in New York under cover of the Passport Control Office, which continued to track Irish separatists. So presumably it was to this clandestine operation that Boyle returned from Canada. There is an US take on the British operation in New York
David Boyle had most recently served as number two to Major Norman Thwaites, the head of MI1c's [MI1c appears to have been part of the Secret Intelligence Service which became later MI6] undeclared station in New York City. The MI1c station operated semi clandestinely under diplomatic cover at the British Mission in Manhattan and had been investigating various radicals arriving in New York from abroad, including IRB radicals, throughout the First World War. .... Boyle took command as acting head of station when Thwaites left New York for London in Jan 1920 ... Security concerns....about the intrusive British "diplomats" prompted MI1c to lower its profile considerably. In March 1920 Boyle closed the MI1c station at the British Mission and departed the United States for Canada Michael Collins and the Anglo-Irish War, Hittle
1919 July, a pamphlet appeared in New York and spread throughout the country that claimed to reveal an 'Amazing British Secret Document'. Dated 10 June 1919, it purported to be a letter from Wiseman addressed to Prime Minister Lloyd George summarizing the success British agents had achieved in influencing American opinion. The ultimate aim of this, supposedly, was to transform the nation's leadership and population into obedient subjects of His Majesty. The document came to public light in 1929 at a Senate hearing, but was in the possession of the US Government from 1919
Cheng Library at William Paterson University . The pamphlet, printed and disseminated by pro-Irish organizations, almost certainly was a forgery. However, it accurately named Wiseman, Thwaites and [Sir Robert] Nathan as British intelligence officers, something that made their continued functioning in anything like secrecy all but impossible. A United States ONI memo dated February 1929 and attached to the above 'Secret Document' names a Captain Strath-Gordon as the man who relieved Thwaites in March 1919. Alexander Edward Ronald Strath-Gordon certainly existed, known simply as Ronald Strath in 1919, an Edinburgh-born Canadian medical officer. MI5 records show that Captain R. Strath joined the British Mission in New York in March of that year on that agency's behalf, not SIS. However, Strath left MI5's employ in August, the same time as Nathan's departure, so it seems likely it was then he first entered Cumming's employ.
Oddly, American reports on the British intelligence apparatus c.1920-21, accurate in most respects, make absolutely no mention of a Strath or Strath-Gordon. Rather, the man identified as taking over the agent network from Nathan and Thwaites was a Captain (or Lieutenant) James. The same documents disagree on James' initial, A.W. vs. C.M., but do concur that he used the alias Charles Fox. A roster of the New York Passport Control Office drawn up about July 1920 does show an A.W. James attached but leaves his function vague.
The question is whether Strath and James/Fox were the same man or two, or indeed if David Boyle was this man.
A MID memo dated November 1920 named 'Mr. James' as the one secretly maintaining an intelligence bureau under the cover of the Passport Control Office at 44 Whitehall. James, the report continued, took special interest in the Sinn Fein Question and received reports and agents at his home in Elmhurst, Long Island. 'I understand', the writer added, 'a great many secret meetings are held there'. James appeared to be spending a lot of money but was 'getting nothing therefor'.
Additional information gathered by MID and the FBI confirmed that James, acting as Charles Fox, received reports from operatives via a post office box in Manhattan's City Hall Station, raising the possibility that he was operating parallel networks under different names. The above reports provide a good deal of information on James/Fox's agents and suspected agents and offer some idea as to his range of contacts and interests. James' right hand man was the Raymond Finch who maintained his own base of operations at the Prince George Hotel. Working out of the same place, presumably in tandem with Finch, was William Lynch, an Irish-American previously convicted for 'criminal anarchy' by US authorities.
And WS 597 from an Edmond O'Brien says that he impersonated a A D Pate, the alias for a British Agent, at a New York hotel, and got hold of the man's post. This showed the the British were trying to recruit mercenaries for Ireland. There is nothing to link A D Pate with Boyle
1919 Dec 4. A letter in The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers from NAN, CSO 1/36/9. TL, copy. Marked "Confidential."
From David Boyle, Assistant Director, British Mission, to Gilbert E. A. Grindle, Assistant Undersecretary of State, British Colonial Office. 3rd Floor South Ferry Buildings 44 Whitehall Street NEW YORK December 4th 1919
Dear Grindle, In the course of my work here in the British Mission I have come across evidences of a movement among the negroes of this country to join with the more lawless American elements in fomenting a Race War in Africa. One of the chief points at which their attacks are to be directed is (through Liberia, of course) the conquered Colonies:—Togoland, for example, provides by its division between France and England all the seeds for discontent; and, as I and many other juniors pointed out at the time, the tribal instincts being English, they will always feel a certain amount of Alsace Lorraineism under French rule. This subject, to my surprise, is distinctly mentioned over here, and these very reasons for it. Would you kindly advise me as to whom I or my Chief, Colonel N[orman] G. Thwaites, may write in strict confidence to obtain information from the [Gold] Coast end. It is essential that such correspondence should not pass through the hands of the native clerks of the different Secretariats at Sierra Leone since from personal experience at Accra I know only too well how little secret any Secretariat papers are. I would suggest that we be put in touch with the Colonial Secretary himself at Sierra Leone, Accra, and Lagos, and that a letter should be sent to them from the Colonial Office explaining the importance and confidential nature of the enclosed correspondence. In case you do not remember very much about me I am sending this through Sanger, who knows us both. Sincerely yours [David Boyle] Assistant Director
A footnote reads Little credence was given by Colonial Office officials to this report. Boyle was dismissed as a "disgruntled" former member of the Gold Coast administration whom the Foreign Office had "unfortunately employed" in New York and who was, it was believed, merely calling attention to himself (PRO, CO 96/619/282). Difficult to know how to read this as Boyle was undoubted employed in Intelligence for many years after this.
1919 Nov 12 The Prince of Wales arrives for a visit was attached to his staff for the visit. The Price sailing back home on Nov 22.
1919 Nov 28. Their child Alaistair David Forbes Boyle born New York, USA. (Boyle supposedly working in Ministry of Pensions from Birth Cert)
1920 Feb For reasons he does not discuss, Boyle moved briefly to Canada for unspecified talks, but he stayed at Government House. He then went to New York and back to Canada. There is no border crossing records
1920 Mar 22. Arrives Liverpool on SS Empress of France from St John, New Brunswick, Canada, and travels as part of the Governor General's party. He is staying at Carlton Club and is a Civil Servant.
He then says he was "summoned to London and asked to go to Dublin in a post in the Castle under General Tudor ...it seemed to me to be an obvious duty to accept the post"
1920 Aug 17. Joined ADRIC with service no 465, and posted to Police Advisor's Office (record states Argylls previously). He says "from August 1920 to October 1921 my duties were merely those of any assistant to his Chief" . Beyond that Boyle has nothing of any substance to say about his stay in Ireland.
1921 Jan. Took over running of Military Dublin District Special Branch when it transferred to Police control under Tudor and Winter. Previous head of Military Dublin District Special Branch, Lt Col Walter Wilson, resigned over the move
1921 Mar 27. Intelligence. 2nd Lt. D. H. M. Boyle, late 4th Argyll.& S.H., Spec. Res., to be 2nd Lt.
1921 Aug 18. Their child was born Ranald Hugh Montgomerie Boyle at Fairlie, Ayrshire, Scotland
1921 Sep 1. Permitted to resign from ADRIC. His version is "our various sections of the Castle Administration had been quietly liquidated so that a large number of us had been able to return"
1922 Jan He was "taken on in a Foreign Office department in connection with Far Eastern affairs." He went as a correspondant for the Morning Post with his wife, this apparently being a cover for his work there
1922 Jul 27 Leaves UK for Canada on the start of a "long tour of enquiry from Japan to Ceylon " on problems that had arisen in the area as a result of WW1.
He then moves across Canada to the Far East with his wife. The "X" document picks up the story : ".. he was sent on a mission to the Far East by "C" ( Mansfield Cumming) and his wife accompanied him as secretary. His efforts were regarded by the authorities with such grave displeasure that he was recalled and his services ceased again. He subsequently wrote a series of elementary articles on the Far East for the Morning Post" They visit Japan, China, Singapore, Malaya, before getting back to London on 21 Jan 1923
1923. Cumming went on to establish additional SIS offices throughout the world, offices that became key to the interwar operations. At home Cumming reorganized geographically to fit the peacetime mission. He also continued the centuries-old practice of opening diplomatic mailbags, assigning the task to David Boyle in a new section. Cumming's death was in 1923. Dating Section N is not possible from available materials, but the earliest reference to its long term head, David Boyle, running the Section is 1924, Brown, p.210. The presumption is that Boyle was appointed to the post before Cumming's death.
1924 Aug 29. Arrives in New York from UK on Diplomatic Passport. "Assistant Private Secretary" and his fare paid by Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales is sailing on the same ship. Boyle accompanied the Price by himself on a visit to President Coolidge in the White House
1924 Sep 13. Rear Admiral Hugh Quex Sinclair succeeds Cumming as head of MI6. X Document - "He next succeeded in obtaining employment on the Prince of Wales Staff on the latter's visit to America (13/9/24) as " a specialist on American Society". He did not, however last the tour out but unexpectedly re-appeared in England while the prince was still in America. It is reported that he had been very tactless in his advice to the Prince."
1924 Oct 21. Arrives back in UK from New York. Occupation "Secretary". Oddly only stays in UK for 3 days.
1925 Oct 24. Arrives in New York from UK, travels on a Diplomatic Visa, occupation "none". Boyle does not refer to this in his memoirs
1925 Nov 10. Arrives back in UK from New York
1926 - Letter to Times from Travellers Club "Profits of War"- praising Baruch Plan
1927 - 2/2 Letter to Times on Far East "Japan is our friend", on TOCH appeals Committee
1928 Jan 26. Arrives in New York from UK. He is a "manager" His memoirs say "For a 2 month tour of our friends and agents"
1928 Mar 23. Arrives back in UK from New York. He is a "manager" and travels with his wife.
1928 Apr 19 Arrives in New York from UK. He is with his wife and they are "in transit"
1928 May 21 Arrives in Liverpool from New York on SS Samaria. His UK address is Fairlie, Ayrshire. He is travelling with his wife Laura Boyle who is 9 years younger.
1928 Dec 11. Arrives in New York from UK. He is a "manager"
1929 Feb 8. Arrives back in UK from New York. He is a "shipping manager"
1929 Apr 19 Arrives in New York from UK. He is a "manager"
1929 May 4. Arrives back in UK from New York.
1930 Feb 23. Executor of will of John Tennant (this his wife's uncle)
1930 - Booked on Graf Zeppelin to Fredrichshaven from Cardington travelling with Japanophile Master of Semphill.
1930. Attending Wedding with Sir Ronald Graham and Mrs Roberts
1932 - Times Letter Safety at Sea, Times Letter on US/India
1933 Times letter on Armaments
1933 Aug 17. He has a daughter born at Fairlie, Ayrshire.
1933 Sep 1. Having reached the age limit 2nd Lt D H M Boyle, Intelligence, ceases to belong to the Reserve of Officers.
1934 Pro-Japan letter on Manchurian Railway to Times "Eastern Artery"
1935 - Director Anchor Line with Runcimans - resident Fairlieburne, Fairlie Ayrshire
1935 Jun 4. Plays cricket for MCC against his old school Wellington (he did not have to bat) A list of his cricket matches
1936 Mar 6. Leaves UK for Port Said with his wife. He is a Merchant Banker
1936 Jun 4. Listed as a director of the Anchor Line shipping company
1936 Jun 9. Elected a director of Dawnay, Day (his father had been a director)
1937 Glebe House, Lewes - officiates at Coronation of George VI - Kings Messenger
1937 His son Ranald's obit records that as a 16-year-old he had been in Berlin watching the Nazi Fuhrer-day parades while his father, David Boyle, CMG, carried out his duties as an officer in the intelligence services.
1938 Personal Assistant to Sinclair, running section N at MI6. Operated Section N which secretly opened diplomatic mail.
1938 Leaves UK with his wife for Marseilles. He is a Company Director.
1939 - Sent by C(Sinclair) to visit Berlin on eve of war (with involvement of GVI, Halifax and Cadogan) 10/10 resigns directorship of Dawnay Day because of war work. Personal assistant to New MI6 chief Stewart Menzies who he supports in role.
Sent to Berlin in 1939 under Royal instruction to try to avert war as MI6 Officer. In Burma was offered post of gold staff officer to Earl Marshall and officiated at Coronations of George V,VI and ER. The Secret Servant by Cave Brown
1939 Aug. Jahnke had apparently encouraged Menzies to send his close friend David Boyle to meet Hitler but when Ribbentrop got wind of the proposed meeting, he persuaded Hitler to call it off. Boyle in his memoirs says he went to Berlin on Aug 23, and returned 2 days later, the purpose of his trip being to escort the English governess of a German friend back to England. On the 23 August 1939 Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador to Germany, delivered to Adolf Hitler a message from the British government and a personal letter from the Prime Minister - it would look as if Boyle's visit and the letter were connected..
A USA paper, Chester Times of PA certainly mentions Boyle
Boyle then returned to Berlin on Aug 28, he says as Kings Messenger accompanying Sir Nevile Henderson on his return to Berlin and with papers for the Berlin Embassy. These papers were the British reply to Hitler's demands of a few days earlier. On 29 August 1939 Hitler handed to Sir Nevile Henderson his reply to the British letter, making at the same time verbal explanations. Boyle returned to London on 29th Aug with the dispatches that meant war
1940 Jul. A new Section VII of SIS began to identify stay-behind agents. Valentine Vivian, David Boyle and Gambier-Parry initially trained and equipped 6 agents who could operate radio sets in the event of German invasion if Britain. (MI6, Keith Jeffery). They later trained further such agents.
1941 Possible involvement in Hess Affair
1946 Visit to Egypt and Palestine. Official discussions
1948. He was invested as a Companion, Order of St. Michael and St. George (C.M.G.). Citation says "attached to a department of the Foreign Office"
1948 Feb 13. Travels with his wife from UK to Port Said. He is a "Civil Servant"
1949 Mar 26. He leaves UK for Port Said. He is a "Civil Servant"
1953 Dec 18. Times reports that Hennan & Froude have retained his services to undertake a tour of the Near East, Middle East and India on their behalf. It adds that he was a director of the company from 1934 to 1945.
1955 Jun 27. Edinburgh Gazette reports THE Lord Lyon King of Arms has appointed DAVID HUGH MONTGOMERIE BOYLE, C.M.G., to be Falkland Pursuivant for fourteen days from 27th June 1955. Falkland Pursuivant of Arms was a Scottish pursuivant of arms of the Court of the Lord Lyon.The title was first mentioned in 1493 and it is derived from the Royal Palace of the same name located in Fife. The tile is often used for a temporary Pursuivant Extraordinary.
1959 Book "With Ardours Manifold"
1960 attended funeral of cousin Sd Ldr PN Boyle
1962 Oct 15. The Lord Lyon King of Arms has appointed David Hugh Montgomerie Boyle, CMG., to be Falkland Pursuivant- Extraordinary for fourteen days from 15th October 1962.
1963 Jun 28. The Lord Lyon King of Arms has appointed David Hugh Montgomerie Boyle, C.M.G., to be Falkland Pursuivant- Extraordinary for fourteen days from 28th June 1963.
1970 Oct 5, died aged 87 at Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
1971 Dec 15. His widow died.
Police Advisor's Office