James Ryder was either a regular soldier or an ex-regular who was recalled when war was declared (indicated by his service number). He was unmarried and lived with his parents at 24 Newton Street, Edgeley, Stockport. Regimental records indicate he was born in the town but It has not been possible to find him listed in the 1901 Census, perhaps suggesting he was serving abroad with the Army.
A couple of weeks before he was killed, he wrote home "I have been in some near shaves out here. Poor Jack Carney got blown up in a trench I was in and there was only me got out alive, so you see God was good to me. But the Germans, they are dirty fighters; you would scarcely believe what they do. They nailed one of Canadians up to a cross and then shot him. I hope you will believe me, for I would not tell a lie like that......".
The story of the "crucified Canadian" was prevalent in the press throughout the early part of 1915 and questions were asked in Parliament. There was never any evidence, then or since, that it ever happened and the story should be treated on the same level as the stories of the Angel of Mons.
Details of the incident which killed Jack Carney can be found here. Having once escaped being buried, James would not be so lucky the next time. On 1 June, the Battalion was at Dormy House, Zillebeke (just to the south of Ypres (now Ieper). The unit's War Diary reports that "At 7.30am, a large portion of the parapet of 47 trench was blown in, destroying the telephone dug-out and causing several casualties, afterwards ascertained to be 6 killed, 6 wounded, 2 missing." James was one of those killed or missing. His body was never found and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing