Virtually nothing is known about James Boyd, other than regimental records indicate he was born in the Stockport area and enlisted in the town. The 1901 Census list only one James Boyd who was born in Stockport and that is a boy aged 5. If this is the same person, then he would have been aged about 19 when he died.
His medal entitlement card, held at the National Archives, shows that he originally served with the Cheshire Regiment and had a service number of 9760. This is a very early number and it probable that he was a regular soldier, one of the "Old Contemptibles", who served in the first few weeks of the War. By the end of 1914, after only about 4 months of fighting, there had been many thousands of casualties and it is probable that James was wounded at this time. When he recovered, he will have been transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps.
Members of the Corps were fighting troops but, in 1915, mainly carried out reconnaissance work and duties as despatch riders. The troops of 8th Division had taken part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 and the Battle of Aubers in May. It is not known, however, when James received the wounds from which he eventually died. It is possible, however, to give an idea of how he will have received medical treatment.
Wherever James was injured, he will have been treated by the nearest Field Ambulance unit. In 1915, the Ambulance was more than simply a vehicle as we know it today, but a reasonably well equipped emergency battlefield facility, staffed by doctors. Treatment would have been little more than first aid, however, and James would have been quickly evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station (a full emergency surgical mobile facility). After treatment here, he may have spent time in a stationery hospital on the Channel coast before returning to "Blighty". His burial at Heston suggests that he was in a military hospital nearby when he died. The bodies of troops who died abroad were not repatriated home, but James could have been buried in Stockport - but the cost of transporting his body would have had to have been met by his family.