Who Was Joe Boyle?
Snatching treasure from Bolsheviks, rescuing prisoners, defying fleets, signing treaties —"Uncle Joe#/ was nothing if not versatile
FLORA ALEXANDER BOYLE
WHEN General Wrangel sent Colonel Joe Boyle of the Yukon into Roumania to organize food and supply services for White Russian refugees escaping across the border from the Bolshevist terror, it was late December of 1917.
Invaded, defeated and deserted, Roumania was in desperate straits. The utter collapse of her ally, Russia, culminating in the Bolshevik triumph in November, had put her completely at the mercy of her foes. Hordes of former Russian soldiers were pillaging within her borders. Her army had collapsed. The armistice between her government and the Central Powers, signed on December 6, had brought no relief. Three quarters of her territory was in the hands of the invading Austrians and Germans. The Parliament and the Court remained at Jassy, near the Russian border. The enemy still held Bucharest. Famine stalked the land. Revolution threatened from within as well as from without. As Queen Marie herself told me: “Your father came at an hour when I felt on the verge of complete despair. I knew that the dawn of the next day might bring complete disaster, might be the beginning of the end.”
Recovering Roumanian Treasure
TNTO these desperate circumstances, Joe Boyle, the Canadian colonel, precipitated his powerful personality. When the Bolsheviki became more and more antagonistic, the Roumanians, who had sent their national treasure to Moscow at the time of the invasion, wished to bring it back to Jassy and were much embarrassed to find means to do so until Queen Marie spoke to father about it and he undertook the task.
With his credentials he went to Moscow early in 1918. There he ordered a train and stood guard while the Roumanian bank notes, securities, valuable papers and crown jewels were put on board. His only companions were two British officers. It couldn’t have been a pleasant journey—three men sitting there with a nation’s treasure at their feet and not sure just how friendly a crew they had. No one could be trusted in those days.
So, it was not a surprise to father when, after alternately speeding and jerking along, the train stopped completely at an odd little station for a long time.
Father investigated and found the Bolsheviki had set fire to the farmhouses and the whole countryside behind
them was in flames. It was a terrible scene. He investigated and found that the driver and fireman had deserted the engine. Here the two British officers joined him, and they went into the station to see half a dozen drunken men —some of them asleep on the floor.
Father said to his companions, “The engine driver has disappeared, we can’t go back. It doesn’t seem very attractive to stay here. We must go on.”
“Have you ever driven an engine?” they asked.
“No.” father answered, “but I don’t see why I shouldn’t begin now.”
The boiler was nearly empty and they had to fill it up a bucketful at a time. They hastened to build up the fire, which was dying, for the sound of shooting was getting nearer. At last, all set, father pulled this gadget and that until he had the train in motion.
They proceeded slowly so as not to attract attention and with the hope that they were continuing on the right tracks.
It was dark when they saw a light in a farmhouse and stopped. One of the officers walked over to it and enquiry revealed that they were within walking distance of the Roumanian border. A Roumanian train picked them up there and took them on to the Roumanian capital where the treasure was tucked safely away.
It was for saving the Roumanian treasure that father was decorated with the Order of the Crown.
Later he flew from Jassy to Ekaterinburg, in the foothills of the Urals, to try to persuade the Russian Czar, then a prisoner with his family, to permit him to attempt to arrange a rescue, through negotiations with the Roumanian Government; but the Czar, possibly still hopeful of a White Russian victory, refused to fall in with the plan. Six months later the entire family was wiped out by a Bolshevik firing squad.
Meeting With Dowager Czarina
"pAILURE also met his attempt to persuade the aged ■*Dowager Czarina of Russia to leave her refuge near Y'alta in the Crimea, where she was watched by Bolshevik troops. Yalta, a little port on the Black Sea, was off the beaten track and remote from the world-shaking events happening outside its own small area. King Ferdinand of Roumania supplied father with credentials, a ship, 200 soldiers, a picked crew of sailors, and a plentiful supply of
food, clothing and munitions. The outward journey was made swiftly and uneventfully enough, but once the ship had docked, danger pressed hard.
This was the first vessel of any sort to touch at Yalta in months. The entire population swarmed to the waterfront, curious and hungry for news and for supplies too. Father had brought an automobile with him. Officers of the ship arranged a luxurious banquet for the local Bolshevik leaders, while my father got his car ashore, and, guided by a trusted White Russian interpreter, drove far into the country to the little villa where the Dowager Czarina was living, comforted by a few loyal friends and faithful servants. The whole company was impoverished. Father remarked afterward to friends that not one of the officers surrounding the once mighty Empress had a whole pair of boots on his feet.
At once admitted to an audience with the former Czarina, father presented his letters from King Ferdinand and urged that preparations be made for the immediate departure of the entire party. The Dowager Empress, deeply touched, was eloquent in her thanks, but she steadfastly refused to leave. Press dispatches quote her as saying:
“I am an old woman now. My life is nearly over. Here I am able to organize some resistance to the Bolsheviki. You cannot take with you all who have sacrificed everything for me and my family, and I cannot abandon them.”
Insistent, father urged the aged Dowager Empress to consider her decision for twenty-four hours. He found her adamant, and neither his urgings nor those of two White Russian officers he had taken with him could stir her. She gave him letters for her sister, the Dowager Queen Alexandra of England, and for King Ferdinand, then bade him farewell. Eyewitnesses have stated that, when she extended her hand, while those who had accompanied him pressed it to their lips, he took it and pressed it in both his own hands, the salute of a comrade. Realizing that to linger further might endanger the life of the woman he had come to rescue, father returned to the ship, which steamed away under cover of darkness on the homeward journey, its mission in vain.
THE Bolsheviks both hated and admired father, and when they signed peace with Roumania, Commander Moravie f. chief of the Bolshevik forces, insisted that
Colonel Boyle act as intermediary. Bolshevik Russia and Roumania were at war from January 28 to March 9, 1918.
The story of father’s part in this is told in some detail in a London dispatch from Anne Merrill, a Canadian newspaper correspondent stationed in London at the time, who was a close friend of father’s and one of the few newspaper reporters in whom he placed confidence. From Jassy father had been sent early in March to Odessa with full authority to complete the negotiations for peace.
“When I first went to Odessa.” he told Miss Merrill, "they were governing the south of Russia by a ‘supreme college’—a committee of five, of which Racovski was chairman, a Bolshevik named Brashovan vice-chairman, and a representative each of the soldiers and the sailors of the Black Sea fleet, with one from the workers of Southern Russia.
“Racovski was against making peace; so was Moravief, chief commander of the Bolshevik forces fighting against the Roumanians. But I succeeded in winning over the others, and drew up a submission of terms of peace which they signed and authorized me to present to the Roumanian Government.
“Then, to impress the Bolsheviks with my authority, I got hold of all the foreign military and naval officers in Odessa, and persuaded them to come with me for a joint conference with the members of the ‘supreme college.’ It worked, and after that I conducted future conferences with the Bolshevik committee alone. Finally Moravief and Racovski gave in, and signed the proposed peace terms. Moravief, once the document was signed, furnished me with an automobile and two men to convoy my interpreter and myself to Jassy. Then he issued me a safe conduct.” Here is a translation of Moravief’s order to his soldiers: “This assurance is given to Colonel Boyle of Canada service, for his going to Jassy. With a commission from the members of the High Department of the Soviets of Workmen, Soldiers and Peasants’ Deputies. I order that one should give to Colonel Boyle and his A.D.C. and his Interpreter D. T. Zvegintzof, a free conduct to Jassy and back again. I give the order to all the revolutionary organizations and government institutions that they should give in everything the greatest help to Colonel Boyle. Colonel Boyle and those that are with him, are inviolable. For any oppression or detainment, the guilty will be given up to the Revolutionary' Tribunal’s Judgment. (Signed) Chief Commander Moravief.”
With this imposing document to smooth the way through the suspicious Bolshevik soldiers, father was able to reach Bender, a border town on the Roumanian side of the Dniester River. There he was met by the Roumanian commander, who supplied him with a special train for the balance of the journey to Jassy. He obtained from General Averescu, then Roumanian Prime Minister, a series of counter proposals with which he returned to Odessa.
News of the peace negotiations was distributed to the people of Odessa through a single-sheet newspaper, printed on one side only, measuring eighteen by ten inches. It contained nothing save the announcement of the peace terms. Thus:
Edition Price 15 Kopecks 11 March 1918
Telegramme Golas Revolutionii
Peace Between Russia and Roumania
Yesterday evening in an airplane from Jassy to Odessa, came the English Colonel Boyle, member of the Russian-Roumanian Peace Conference.
He brought an official document of peace between Russia and Roumania. From the Roumanian side, the Peace Treaty was signed by the Roumanian Minister Averescu. Roumania accepted all the conditions.
By these conditions the Roumanian armies must quit Bessarabia during two months. While the Roumanian army will leave liessarabia the Russian Revolutionary army will occupy her. The Roumanians leave only guards, not more than 10,000 men on the railway lines where there are Roumanian stores.
Port Gebrieni is immediately occupied by our forces. All Russian citizens arrested in Roumania and Bessarabia are immediately freed. The Roumanians arrested in Russia will be also freed. If Roumania makes a separate peace with Austro-Germany, the Russian armies left in Roumania go back to Russia. Amnesty is announced to Roumanian deserters and politicals arrested. The whole peace treaty will be published in Golos Revolutionii. Peace between Roumania and Austro-Germany has not been declared.
Rescuing Roumanian Hostages
THE conclusion of the paper peace between Roumania and Russia did not mean less, but rather more, trouble for father. Differences arose between the two countries concerning the manner in which the treaty pledges were being carried out. The Russians claimed that Roumanian troops were not being withdrawn. They refused to give up their Roumanian hostages. Father went after them. The dramatic tale of that adventure has been told in the
fascinating book, “Roumania in Light and Shadow,” by Ethel Greening Pantazzi, the former Ethel Greening, of Hamilton. Ont., who married a commander in the Roumanian navy and, with her husband, was an eyewitness to these stirring events.
Father was given charge of the exchange of prisoners under the treaty by the Roumanian administration headed by Premier Marghiloman. A number of highly placed Roumanian citizens, many of them prominent in public life, were held at Odessa as hostages, and the first job he tackled was to bring these people back safely to Jassy. Before he was able to complete the necessary details for their transportation, Austro-German troops marched on Odessa and a hurried evacuation of the city was begun.
In Odessa were large numbers of Roumanian revolutionaries, most of them deserters from the Roumanian army who had joined forces with the Bolshevists. They had organized a battalion of their own, and during the night they marched to the prison where the hostages were held, seized the entire party and hustled them on board the Emperator Trajan, a small Russian ship.
Madame Pantazzi learned of this in the early morning and went looking for father. Before reaching his living quarters she met him sauntering along the avenue enjoying the sunshine and completely unarmed.
Hurriedly she told the story. Father couldn’t believe it at first, and they rushed to the meeting place of the Russian-Roumanian Soviet which was near by. Finding this empty, father knew it was all true, and now the roar of German cannon could be heard distinctly.
Realizing they would have to get to the wharf quickly, father and Madame Pantazzi got into a droshky (a small Russian carriage).
On arriving at the ship they found the hostages aboard and demanded an audience with Racovski. This gentleman had an interesting background. He was a native of Bulgaria and a doctor by profession, who had become a socialist and an intimate friend of Lenin. When the Russian revolution took place, he went into Roumania and persuaded numerous soldiers there to desert and go with him to Russia. He was caught and imprisoned in Jassy, but escaped, got into Russia and became a leader.
I don’t believe father could have known his history or he wouldn’t have been so calm and serene about the safe conduct of his Roumanian prisoners.
However, Racovski was the man to do business with now, and father knew what to expect but he was surprised when he was told by the sentry at the gangplank that Racovski was not there. After all, he hadn’t expected a man with such a background to be afraid to meet him.
Looking up on the deck, Madame Pantazzi recognized some of the prisoners and assured father they were his men.
“If Racovski isn’t here we’ll see his deputy,” father told the sentry. Whereupon a swarthy, unkempt young man came up and informed them that everything was being done for the safety of the prisoners and that both father and Madame Pantazzi had better go with them to escape the German invasion.
Madame Pantazzi had to interpret this interesting conversation, and father instructed her to say that they would escape the Germans all right and that the prisoners were his and he asked them to be men of honor about it. But the poor man, who had learned his lesson word for word, could say or do nothing.
They left the dock, father having the idea that perhaps he could get a Roumanian boat and force the prisoners on it. They hadn’t gone far, however, when Madame Pantazzi was hit in the head and cut quite badly with flying glass.
Father took her home and called a doctor who bandaged her and told her to rest.
Then father succeeded in getting a ship, the Jeanne, and gave her captain a huge sum of money to provision her in haste. But before this could be accomplished, Madame Pantazzi, swathed in bandages, found him and informed him she had been notified that the Emperator Trajan was leaving in ten minutes.
There was another mad dash to the dock, the two Canadians arriving as the ship was preparing to get under way. Father ordered the prisoners off. but when they reached the dock, shooting beganFather saw that the Bolsheviks meant business. He ordered the Roumanians back on board. Then it was that father learned the Bolshevik plan. Because of the activities of Racovski’s followers in Roumania, the Roumanian Government had promised to execute them whenever they were caught. By holding their prisoners as hostages, and threatening to shoot them if the Roumanian Government did not accede, Racovski could bargain for pardons.
Madame Pantazzi describes this scene in detail in her book.
“Women and children were shrieking, some of the prisoners trying to escape, frightened horses stampeding.
“My thoughts turned to Colonel Boyle. I looked about me. Where I left him there I found him. Forced by the weight of numbers to one side of the gangplank, he was now standing quietly a few inches from it.
“ ‘What are you going to do now?’ I asked him.
“He looked at me: then our eyes turned instinctively toward the deck. We saw two sailors beating a white-
haired man on the back with the butts of their g?jns* B. (Commander Pantazzi who was among the host^^es^ disappeared in the howling crowd of Bolsheviks.
“ ‘I can’t stand this,’ he replied. ‘I’m going* w’t^them.’
“We shook hands. Unarmed though he w a^. ? stranger to me and mine, no shadow of doubt was p‘osle—he was the right man in the right place.
“ ‘Go.’ I said urgently, ‘or they are û£dgngû/
“I can see him now, mounting ther s^,'incline that led to that ship of horror, and seizin-. ■ y the scruff of their necks the two wretches who ” oeatjjig one of ‘his’ prisoners, as he called them. . yew seconds later the hawsers were cut, the gangplank flung down. A band of music on the ship drowned with its blare other sounds of departure.
“I was left on the dock . . . alone.”
This trip was perhaps one of the most exciting in father’s life. Here he was on an enemy ship, unarmed. He could speak no word in the tongue of either captive or captor. He knew not where they were going or what to expect next.
They were fed. On rare occasions tinned cabbage was thrown to them which they pried open as best they could, and once in a long while tea was served them with dirty black sugar that they couldn’t possibly use.
After three days of going in and out of ports, the engines stopped and they learned they were in Theodosia, at the southeastern end of the Crimean Peninsula. Here they were herded together and, under guard, marched to a sanatorium where they were left in charge of Chinese international soldiers.
The “sanatorium” was a filthy place, having been a cholera hospital. There were beds but no mattresses or bedding. Most of the men slept on straw brought in from the courtyard and thrown around the floor. However, this was better than they had fared on board ship, for there wasn’t even room there to lie down. There was no sleep, just cat naps taken propped up with their heads on the next man’s shoulder.
Father had forced himself into this party and was not considered a prisoner,'but he refused to leave his flock for a moment until he received an urgent message from the British Vice-Consul in Theodosia. This gentleman had learned of his countryman being there and had planned an escape. Father told his men to be ready for a quick getaway but not to arouse the suspicion of the guards.
The prisoners were in a nervous state when at dark they heard the sound of a detachment of armed men entering the courtyard. These were anti-Bolshevists who, at great risk, had been persuaded by the consul to make a sudden coup. The Chinese were taken unawares and held. Father hastily got his men into marching formation. At a double they raced to the dock where a ship had been made ready to sail. This ship, the Chernomore (the name always amused father), was a small, leaky craft. But it looked like a floating palace to those men as they steamed out of the harbor followed by pot shots from ashore, and headed for Sevastopol. But upon arrival at that port, father was informed that his hostages were now prisoners of the Bolshevik Black Sea fleet.
There followed several more days of negotiations until, pulling wires through Jassy, he established communication with headquarters of the Central Powers at Bucharest and was able to obtain from General von Mackensen, the commander-in-chief, an order of safe conduct for the ship and its passengers to proceed to Sulina, at the mouth of the Danube, to complete the exchange of prisoners. On this authority, the Soviet Committee of the Black Sea Fleet permitted the Chernomore to sail.
En route the ship was storm bound three days at Eupatoria, less than a hundred miles from Sevastopol. The unhappy Roumanians, ill, poorly fed, some of them wounded, suffered severely, but father held their flagging spirits up, always confident, dominating, and refusing to concede defeat. The gale blew itself out, the Chernomore continued on its way and arrived safely at Sulina.
Here they hoped to find safe haven. But no. This Black Sea port was under Austrian command, with a Commander Wolff in control, who had with him a flotilla of four Austrian monitors, armed with six-inch guns. Also lying in the harbor was the Elizabeth, an old Roumanian cruiser, then in the hands of Lieut.-Commander Lazu, a Russian officer.
My father related the rest of the story to a newspaper correspondent.
The Empty-Gun Bluff
FROM Sulina,” he said, “I telegraphed the Black Sea fleet that the Chernomore would sail on Thursday morning. This was Tuesday night. But the Austrian commander sent me word, through Lazu, that we would not be permitted to sail; to which I replied that I had been given free conduct from Mackensen, and forwarded Mackensen’s telegram as evidence.
“He sent back word that he was an Austrian and had nothing to do with Mackensen’s ‘safe conduct’ which at most was only a simple telegram, and added that the ship was detained because she had a British officer on board, and also because she was a Bolshevik ship and the Austrians
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were at war with the Bolshevists, and that if the ship attempted to sail he would stop her, even if he had to use force.
“I then sent him word that I would have known he was an Austrian without his verbal assurance or having seen his uniform. His behavior was sufficient assurance, and that, knowing he was an Austrian. I knew' he wouldn’t do what he said; that he was right in saying I was a British officer—a Canadian, in fact—and that if he knew I w-as a British officer, then he must know that l would do what I said, and that the ship would sail on Thursday morning. I then—for the purpose of keeping Commander Lazu out of trouble—reduced the wffiole matter to
writing, and made all preparations to sail at the time named.
“On Thursday morning at eight o’clock, all four Austrian monitors had steam up and their guns cleared for action. Two big Austrian seaplanes with men sitting at the machine guns gave an exhibition of rushing up and down the river to impress me. One monitor dropped down astern of us and tied up there; another tied up directly opposite us, and the other two lay just ahead, and, though the whole affair was entirely farcical. I took the canvas off a little tw'o-inch gun (for which, as a matter of fact, we had no ammunition), thinking this might provoke them into sinking the Chernomore as this act would
have ensured the enmity of the sailors of the Black Sea fleet against the Austrians, and that was what we desired.
“By nine-thirty I had cleared all the ropes, excepting the one at the bow and one at the stern, and put the prisoners on shore, when Wolff sent word that he would meet me on board the Elizabeth, I having previously arranged to meet him there at any time. When I met him he was ver>r nervous, and explained that he had now received corroboration of Mackensen’s safe conduct and there would be no further objection to the Chernomore sailing.
“I told him I had nothing to add to my message of Tuesday evening: That he was an Austrian, I was a Britisher, and the ship would sail on Thursday morning at ten o’clock. Then, returning to the Roumanian prisoners, I saw them on board and ordered the Chernomore to sail, which she did, sharp at ten o’clock.”
That, too, was typical of father. He was never a man you could bluff.
It was for this outstanding service to Roumania that he was awarded the Roumanian Regina Maria Order, the highest honor in the power of Queen Marie to bestow. Madame Pantazzi relates that she commented to her husband upon the fact that all the prisoners were returned to Jassy alive, and in good health considering the hardships, exposure and sufferings they had endured, and continues:
“He laughed and said: ‘They just had to live. The colonel had sworn to bring them back alive, and they dared not even look ill.’ ”
Joe Boyle’s Death
Y\ ZHILE these exciting things were ry happening in the utterly turbulent and confused East, with Whites fighting Reds in Russia, and the Austro-German troops still occupying the greater part of Roumania, so that there was a constant conflict of authority and no one could foretell what the next twenty-four hours might bring forth, the World War was moving steadily along its destined course on the Western Front.
The mighty thrust of the Central Powers which was forcing the Allies back toward the English Channel at the very time that father was roaming up and down the Black Sea with his group of rescued hostages, had been checked at last, and the summer months saw the start of the Allied drive which was to culminate with the armistice of historic November 11. Joe Boyle might, had he desired it, have played various roles in the days of victory, for by this time his fame was international and his quality recognized in London. He preferred to stay where he was, helping distracted Roumania to fight her way through her difficulties. Even after the armistice, and throughout the Peace Conference which removed the pressure of the invading heel from Roumania’s neck, eventually establishing her as a greater, more powerful nation than she had been before, he remained. One of the last services he rendered Queen Marie and her distracted country was to organize the harvesting of the 1919 crops in Roumania.
There is in existence a letter he wrote from Bucharest to friends in London, dated July 18, 1919, in which he says:
“One of the many duties I have here is to see that the harvest is recovered, for which purpose the Canadian Government, through the Canadian Mission in London, succeeded in landing 3,150 binders on the Danube nearly a month ago.
“1» the hapeteRsly disorganized condition of everything in the country, the gettiitjg of these machines on the land is very difficult, but owing to the fact that the crops in the south are comparatively small, and that in the north of Moldavia and in Bessarabia the harvest will be nearly a month late, we will, I think, be able to get the farmers’ needs very well supplied.”
It was after the armistice that father, flying on some now forgotten errand, suffered a stroke which left him a partial paralysis of the left side. Queen Marie says that his illness was due to exposure at too high an altitude, and she wrote “when the news was brought to me I was desperate. It was as though a great oak that had sheltered us had been struck by lightning; as though a rock that had given us shade in the desert had been blasted, and I could not go to look after him. We were cut off.”
Later, however, when father could be moved, he was taken to the palace where he was nursed and cared for by the royal family themselves. Their meeting was very tragic, for, as the Queen says, “Some of Joe Boyle’s mighty strength liad oozed from him; his tongue was heavy, one hand felt leaded, and he looked out of an abyss of suffering, realizing that he never would be quite the same man again, and after being a tower of strength, a dominator, his feelings could be readily understood.”
The Queen’s children, Carol, Marie, Nicholas and Illeana, were very fond of their “Uncle Joe,” as they called him, and Illeana became his constant companion and greatest comfort.
So, with the Boyle spirit on the one hand and the tenderest of care on the other, father made a recovery. But something had broken inside; the spring which drove him. He must have suffered cruelly. He tried to keep out of sight as much as possible, and was ill at ease when he had to attend the peace conference on a stretcher.
After what was to him an endless time, he was able to fly again. Forthwith he went to try to get Queen Marie’s sister, wife of the Grand Duke Kyril, the throne of Russia. Her sister had been the Duchess of Hesse. She divorced her husband in order to marry Grand Duke Kyril of Russia. Although this divorce handicapped them in Orthodox eyes, they were still the nearest claimants to the Russian throne. Father flew to Russia for a conference with General Wrangel to instigate reinstatement of these Romanoffs, but it never materialized.
Another delicate mission father had was to go to Switzerland to negotiate the marriage between Prince Georgios of Greece and the Princess Elizabeth of Roumania. His efforts in this case were crowned with success.
None hut father could have written his complete story, and even he might have neglected to tell that when Carol married Mlle. Zizi Lambrino and Roumania was threatened with an uprising over it, ‘‘Uncle Joe” was the only one that obstinate young man would listen to.
When I recall a day in 1921, when Carol and I sat and talked as the then Crown Prince chose victrola records in a New York shop, and he told me how much my father meant to him, it makes me realize that today’s King of Roumania must often wish for him in these troubled times.
Five years later I was to hear his mother, Queen Marie, say, “So much have I to tell you, so very much about your father.” She could not visit the continent from which Colonel Boyle had come without wanting to see his daughter. And I still recall the thrill I got when I was handed a telegram reading: “Her Majesty will he pleased to see you tomorrow evening at seven. Please answer at our expense.—Secretary to Queen Marie.”
The Queen said father was a sort of Hying Dutchman, but in the air instead of on the sea. He was here, there and everywhere, for his interests were many. In oil concessions he was associated with Sir Henri W. A. Deterding. He figured in the great rivalries between international oil groups, and represented the Royal Dutch Shell organization at Genoa and The Hague. He held court and received accredited ambassadors. He was fast becoming a great power, a pillar of the throne. He was at the palace in Bucharest a great deal of the time and was seen
everywhere with Queen Marie. He became k iown as the “Uncrowned King of Roumania” and was spoken of as such in the foreign press. Then the people of Roumania began to wonder why a Canadian colonel should have such a free hand in handling their country’s richest assets. “Who was Joe Boyle?”
Here was another big fight for him, but his health was gone. A few months before he would have welcomed a fight like this. He would have fought, and probably he would have won. But now there was lead in his wings. And so—he left Roumania.
He went to London, still working with the Shell Company. He took Prince Nicholas of Roumania over to England to put him in Eton.
Mrs. George Black, M.P., of Dawsontells of meeting father in the Ritz Hotel. Piccadilly. A slender, good-looking boy hovered in the background while she and father, both old “Sourdoughs,” recalled old times in the Klondike. “Suddenly,” Mrs. Black said, “Colonel Boyle turned around and called in the most matter of fact tone, ‘Come here, Nicky, I want you to meet Mrs. Black.' Nicky,” she continued, “turned out to be no less than the young Prince Nicholas of Roumania.”
The only business interest father had now was with the oil groups. To quote the New York Titties, “He warred on Standard Oil as Lloyd George warred against Krassin, and got about as much space in the dispatches.”
He became such a favorite with King George that at the King’s command he often breakfasted at Buckingham Palace.
But he was losing strength daily and was finally forced to enter a nursing home.
Father and Queen Marie corresponded regularly, and when she learned how
really ill he was, she asked him to return to them in Roumania.
“I want you to remember me as the man I was. I am no longer Joe Boyle,” was father’s answer to her invitation. But she said he was—he was still Joe Boyle, and the motto she gave him to stamp on his seal was, “Strong and True.”
An old Yukon friend, Edward Bredenberg, was living at Hampton Hill, and when father was able to be moved “Teddy” took him and his nurse to his home. It was there that one morning father told his nurse he felt a little better and would like to sit up for a while. He raised himself to sitting position, and then fell back dead.
He must have had a premonition he was going, for beneath his pillow they found a letter addressed to Queen Marie and a note to Teddy. The note said he wished to be buried in St. James’s Churchyard and added, “Don’t buy an expensive grave, Teddy, make it all as simple as possible.” That was father’s last command.
Teddy carried that command out to the letter. The only display was the floral tributes, among which could be seen cards bearing the names of such distinguished personages as King George of England and the Dowager Empress of Russia.
Until recently, every few months a lonely woman, “lonely as Joe Boyle was all the days of his life,” makes a pilgrimage to Hampton Hill, just outside of London.
A little florist near St. James’s Churchyard tells of getting a Queen’s order for flowers to be placed in an urn on the slab which bears Joe Boyle’s name.
“Who was Joe Boyle?”
I would say he was my father and a great man.
When asked, “Who are you?” he himself answered, “A Canadian Colonel at any rate.”