“When the 1st Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders go into action in Korea my thoughts will be with one man – the Regimental Sergeant Major Paddy Boyde. There isn’t another bloke in the Army I’d rather soldier with. In the kilt he’s the very picture of the Highland soldier – even though he’s Irish. Maybe it’s the combination of an Irish birth and seventeen years of Scots training that made him an enemy to be feared and a friend to be proud of” so wrote An Old Argyll as RSM Boyde prepared to go into action in Korea.
Richard Thomas Boyde, but known universally as Paddy, was born on February 1st 1912 in Kilcock, County Kildare, Ireland. His early school years were spent in Kilcock, but he was to finish his education in Erskine as a result of his family moving to the area to run a small holding.
Paddy’s entry into the Army came as a complete surprise to his family. One morning in 1930, Paddy left the house to walk to Stirling, where he was to have an interview with the Chief Constable about his desire to join the Police Force. Prior to his meeting, Paddy made an impromptu visit to Stirling Castle, and it was here that he was talked into joining the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders by a persuasive recruiting Sergeant. That intervention was to be the Army’s gain and the Police’s loss as Paddy started his magnificent career as a professional soldier. It was a career that was to stretch over 33 years and lead to 14 major honours, with the 6’ 3” RSM eventually retiring on December 13 1966 at the age of 54.
His Distinguished Conduct Medal was won while serving with the 7th Argylls at the Rhine Crossings in March 1945. As part of the 154 Brigade of the 51st Highland Division, the 7th had the German village of Bienen, north west of Dusseldorf, as one of their objectives. At that time Company Sergeant Major (CSM), he won the DCM for his bravery in the storming of the strongly held farm of Rosau, on the way to the village. The citation posted in the London Gazette on 21st June 1945, stated: “Warrant Officer Boyde handled the Platoon and flame throwers most skilfully under difficult and trying conditions against a very resolute enemy and showed personal courage and initiative far above average. As a result of his actions the farm was finally captured and a large number of enemy were either killed or made prisoner”.
Paddy is often considered by the men that served with him as the ‘man that single handily took Rees’. Another story from this period perfectly sums up the leadership qualities that Paddy displayed in abundance. As the Argylls were preparing to cross the Rhine into one of their fiercest battles – a voice rang out. Not the harsh word of a command but a hymn. It was Paddy’s and he was singing ‘Abide with me’. One by one the men took it up until Paddy was leading a choir of over a thousand voices. Heartened and cheered by the old hymn the men went into battle filled with confidence and were victorious. After the crossing was complete, Paddy led a rousing version of ‘Land of Hope & Glory’.
As well as the MBE which he was awarded in 1955, he received the Meritorious Service Medal, two Indian General Service Medals, 1939-45 Medal, Africa Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, two Korean Medals and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
After the end of World War Two, he served in Hong Kong, Korea, where he was the RSM of the 1st Argylls, and British Guyana before returning to the United Kingdom in 1954.
For the next three years he was RSM at the Regimental Depot at Stirling Castle. Next he was RSM to the British Support Unit at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, near Paris, until 1960, and from 1960 to 1963 he was in Potsdam, Berlin, as RSM to the British Military Mission to the Soviet Union.
For his final three years service he was Weapons Training Officer and Sports Officer in Rheindahlen, the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine. While serving at S.H.A.P.E Paddy often came into contact with Field Marshal Montgomery, and according to close sources, was considered one of Monty’s favourites.
Paddy’s connection with Helensburgh commenced in 1946, when he married his wife Cathy, who had been born and brought up in Woodhead Cottage, Camis Eskan (the house that the couple moved back into after Paddy retired). Paddy had met Cathy at her Aunt’s pub in Hamilton, where she had been helping out since her Uncle had been conscripted to the war effort. Paddy enjoyed a pint and always stated that “as they had met and fallen in love over one, Cathy could ever nag him for having one.”
After his retirement he worked for the Customs and Excise in Dumbarton, and he died in Helensburgh in 1986, where he had lived for 20 years, at the age of 74.