The Hon. James BOYLE

Regiment:               Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1st Btn  

Rank & Number:

11 March 1880; Shewalton, Dundonald  

                       18 October 1914; Near La Bassee, France  

                      Mentioned In Despatches                                 
                               Brother of The Hon. Alan, The Hon. John,
                               and Patrick, Earl of Glasgow

THE HON. JAMES BOYLE (known as Jimmy) was born on 11 Mar 1880 in Shewalton, Dundonald to parents David, the 7th Earl of Glasgow, and Dorothea Elizabeth Thomasina Hunter-Blair (who married on 23 July 1873).  

He was killed in action on 18 Oct 1914 near La Bassee, France, aged 34 years, and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France and on Fairlie War Memorial.  He is named on his brother’s memorial in Largs Cemetery, which states that he was buried at Park Warneton, Belgium; according to online sources, he was buried by the Germans but the grave was subsequently lost.  After the war, the family erected a memorial in the form of a Celtic cross by the N41 road near La Bassee opposite the wood where he fell, but this was unfortunately vandalised and the cross stolen in 1998.  The memorial was renovated in 2007.  In April 1920, a stained glass window in Fairlie Parish Church, erected by his widow and children, was dedicated to the memory of Captain Boyle.  

He married Katherine Isabel Salvin Bowlby at Trinity Church, Chelsea, London on 15 Sep 1908, and they had three children - Patrick John Slavin (who died at Anzio in 1944), Edward James, and Belinda Margaret Graeme.   

In the 1881 Census, James, aged 1, is living at Maybole Road, Ayr with parents David (47, b. Edinburgh, Captain (retd.) RN), Dorothea E.T.H. (30, b. Edinburgh) and siblings Patrick James (6), Edward George (5), Augusta Helen (4), Alice Mary (3) and Dorothy Montague (2)  

In the 1891 Census, aged 11, he is living at Kelburn Castle, Fairlie with parents David, Earl of Glasgow (57, Convenor of Ayrshire, retired RN Captain) and Dorothea, Countess of Glasgow (40), and siblings Edward G (15), Augusta (14), Alice (13), Dorothy (12), John (6) and Alan (4).    

He joined the Ayrshire Militia in 1898, and served through the South African War 1901-02, receiving the Queen’s medal with five clasps.  In 1903 he joined the Regulars and was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, becoming Lieutenant in 1906 and Captain in 1912.  

Named in the Largs & Millport Weekly News Roll of Honour printed 21 Nov 1914 and the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald Roll of Honour in December 1914 (Boyle, Capt. Honourable James, Fairlie Craig, Fairlie; killed in action on 18th October).  His medal index card shows entry into theatre of war on 22 Aug 1914.  He was mentioned in despatches, and received the 1914 Star (with clasp), the British War and the Victory medals.  

Newspaper articles from other soldiers report that on 18 Oct 1914 during the battle of La Bassee, the R.S.F. were in a tight corner and ordered to retire.  Captain Boyle either didn’t hear the order, or thought his men hadn’t heard it, and charged the German lines.  He was bayoneted several times and fell, but it was impossible for his men to recover him and they had to retire without him.  
Although killed in action on 18 Oct 1914, he was officially reported wounded and missing for six weeks before a note from a German officer confirming his death and burial was given to a British soldier to be passed on to Captain Boyle’s wife.  

Extracts from the Largs & Millport Weekly News:-  

8 August 1914            

Captain the Hon. James Boyle was hurriedly recalled to his regiment at the end of last week, and on Tuesday evening Mrs Boyle left Fairlie to see her husband prior to his probable departure with the Expeditionary Force.  

29 August 1914          

Captain the Hon. James Boyle has rejoined his old regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and left for the front last week.  

31 October 1914        
In a list of casualties published in Saturday’s papers appears the name of Captain the Hon. James Boyle, Royal Scots Fusiliers, as wounded and missing.  He is the third son of the Earl of Glasgow; he is 34 years of age.  The news that Captain the Hon. James Boyle was in the list of wounded and missing caused much anxiety in Fairlie, and much sympathy is expressed towards his wife and the Earl and Countess of Glasgow.  

26 December 1914     

The Countess of Glasgow left Fairlie on Tuesday night on a visit to her son, Lieut. the Hon. John Boyle, who is proceeding to the front.  Her Ladyship has, we regret, this week received confirmative evidence of the death of Captain the Hon. James Boyle.  

28 November 1914

In The Fighting Line; Captain The Hon. James Boyle Killed:  On Wednesday a telegram arrived at Fairlie Craig stating that Captain the Hon. James Boyle, R.S.F., had been killed in action on 18th October.  Capt. Boyle was reported wounded and missing some time ago, and strong hopes were entertained that he was still alive.  The official notification of his death has cast a gloom over Fairlie, where both he and his wife were well known and highly respected.  To the Earl and Countess of Glasgow also the sympathy of everyone will be extended.  The service of their country has now cost them two sons.  The Hon. Edward Boyle succumbed to enteric contracted during the last Soudan campaign.   
The Hon. Mrs James Boyle has received a communication from the War Office, enclosing the following letter:-

Krankenhaus der Barmheizigen, Bruder, Dortmund 3rd Nov. 1914
Sir, I have the honour to report to you that I was wounded on the 20th of last month, and that I have been a prisoner since that date.  I also have the honour to inform you that the enclosed piece of paper was given me by a German officer, who requested me to pass on the information for the benefit of his wife, by which I mean Captain Boyle’s wife.  This officer had some letters on him that he had received from his wife, and these are now in the possession of the German officer who gave me this news.  He requested me to inform you that on the conclusion of hostilities the letters will be sent to the English War Office.  I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant, Thomas Nicolson, 2nd Lieut. Royal Irish Regiment    

The enclosed piece of paper bore the following:-    
Captain Boyle; Royal Scots Fusiliers; Died 18 X 14; Buried, Park Warneton 

1 May 1920    
Memorial Windows; Fairlie Parish Church:  On Sunday last, a beautiful stained glass window was solemnly dedicated to the glory of the Honourable James Boyle, Captain in the Royal Scots Fusiliers and son of the seventh Earl of Glasgow, born 11th March 1880 and who was killed in the Great War on 18th October, 1914, at Chateau Warneton, near La Bassee, France.   
In the service of Dedication, the Rev. Arthur Allan recalled the mighty sacrifice of those who had gone forth to do battle for justice and righteousness and for human salvation; and especially referred to all those who had gone from the parish of Fairlie, many of whom had given their lives in the great cause.  Today, he said, we lovingly dedicate this beautiful window to one who bears a name that is most highly honoured in our midst, and whose bright, happy and generous spirit will always be enshrined in sacred memory in our hearts.  As we look at this window, and the other beautiful windows and memorials in this church that we have already dedicated to the memory of loved ones “who loved not their lives even unto death” our hearts go out to them in undying love, and the prayer goes up to Heaven that we may be inspired to follow their example to be faithful to ourselves, faithful even unto death.   
The window is the work of Heaton of London and is a very fine specimen of the glass stainer’s art.  One panel represents Michael the Archangel in full armour going forth to fight against Satan.  The other panel represents David, the shepherd lad going forth with sling and stone and shepherd’s staff to fight Goliath.   
The shield-shaped window at the top shows the ancestral bearings of the Bowlby and the Glasgow families, and is erected by the widow and children of the late Honourable Captain James Boyle.      

Extracts from other publications:-

Dundee Courier, 3 December 1914
Dundee Royal Scots Fusilier Tells How He Sustained Fearful Wound; In Battle In La Bassee:     The war has left its mark indelibly on Lance-Corporal William McCrudden, a Dundee member of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.  Lance-Corporal McCrudden has returned to his home at 11 Larch Street with one-half of his left hand shot away.  Yesterday he gave the “Courier” an account of how he came by his terrible injuries.  . . . . . . . .   
“Captain the Hon. James Boyle, son of the Earl of Glasgow, was killed the day before I was wounded.  In a melee, the captain was bayoneted four or five times, and he fell dead.  It was impossible to recover his body, and the men were forced to retire without it.  Such an action went sorely against the grain, but they had to do it”.  

Newcastle Journal, 12 December 1914

Letters From The Front:  North-Country Soldiers’ Experiences; “Second Balaclava Charge”:     

Lance-Corporal James McCready, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, in a letter to his father at Heaton, written from the 2nd Eastern General Hospital, Brighton, refers to the death of Capt. The Hon. J. Boyle.  “It was a wonder,” he says, “the whole regiment was not wiped out that day.  I will try and give you an account of that scrap.  It was on a Sunday – we generally had a scrap on a Sunday – some time in October, but I forget the exact date.   
“We marched a few miles after leaving our billets, and then we were told we had to take a wood in which the Huns were entrenched.  They had been giving a lot of trouble.  We started to advance about 7 o’clock in the morning, the wood being 600 or 700 yards away.  We had not got very far before we met a terrific fire of shot and shell.  We went on – what was left of us – until we came to a deep ditch.  We got into it, and there we had to remain until dark, when we got the order to advance.  Then the fun began in earnest, and I was wondering which part of my carcass would stop a bullet, for I never thought I would get out of it alive.   
My chums were falling; but I think I must have had a charmed life that night.   
Then the Adjutant shouted, “There’s a lot of Germans in that wood, and we are going to charge them.  Fix bayonets!”  A lot of Germans, he said.  I should think there was a lot – thousands of them.  We fixed our bayonets, and, led by Captain Boyle, started to charge, but we never got up to them, for we got the order to retire.  The odds were too great for us.  Captain Boyle had evidently not heard the order, for he rushed pell-mell into the German lines, and was bayoneted in a dozen places, I should think.  We must have been outnumbered by 20 to 1 at least.  We lost a good and capable officer in Captain Boyle, and a good many officers besides.   
We got back to our billets at daybreak, and were not sorry.  It was a second Balaclava charge, for there were not many more than 700 of us all told.  Anyway, I got through all right to get into worse, and here I am, one of the victims of “Demented Willie”.  I am keeping right so far, and my leg is doing well.”    

In Memoriam Volume For Wanganui Collegiate School, New Zealand (published 1919)

On Sunday, 18th October, during the battle of Ypres, the R.S.F. were in a very tight corner and were ordered to retire.  As they did so, Boyle, thinking that 20 of his men had not heard the order, went back to call them, when he and they were suddenly attacked by a large force of Germans, and all killed or taken prisoners.  Captain Boyle, who had been wounded earlier in the day, was seen to receive several bayonet thrusts.  After six weeks news was received through the War Office from a German officer, who said that on the night of October 18th, 1914, he had buried him near La Bassee.  He enclosed a rough sketch, explaining that he would forward the letters found on him after the war, signing his name and regiment.

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Memorial pictures ©Pierre Grande Guerre 2014,
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