Diamond War Memorial Project

Rifleman John Boyd

2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles Regimental Number 7141
Born: 1879-07-17 Died: 1915-10-06 Aged: -- Enlisted: Londonderry

Interred in Londonderry City Cemetery. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Eldest son of James and Mary (nee Reid) Boyd, 12, Nassau Street, Derry. Son-in-law of Robert Gray Anderson. Husband of Isabella (nee Anderson, later Evans) Boyd, 97, Fountain Street, Londonderry, whom he married on August 13, 1908. Brother of Alexander (born January 17, 1882); Alice (born November 27, 1884); Eliza (born February 25, 1888); George Reid (born April 23, 1890); Margaretta (born June 3, 1900); Maude (born January 21, 1893); and Albert (born September 15, 1895). Father of Elizabeth (born December 18, 1908); Mary Reid (born November 12, 1909); Alice Gladys (born December 29, 1910); John James (born September 25, 1912) and Robert (born January 23, 1914). Albert, Maud, Alice, Mary, Lizzie, James, and George Boyd, 12, Lower Nassau Street, all signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant (September 1912) pledging resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.

John Boyd was a member of Ebrington Presbyterian Church, Londonderry.

He worked in Messrs. Hogg & Mitchell's factory, and was at the outbreak of war called up as a reservist. Around September/October 1914, he wrote home to his father from a hospital in a French town, where he was lying wounded, giving a very lucid account of his experiences in the firing line. He said ? 'Just a few lines to let you know I am alive. I was wounded on the chin by a shell, and will be in hospital for some time, and will have a scar to show that I was in the fight. Colonel Bird, D.S.O., got struck with a piece of the same shell, and had his leg shattered. So I am fortunate to be alive. I have been in it all. Our regiment has given a good account of itself. I was at Mons, Cambrai, and Rheims. That is the place where the Germans got the good positions. There were old French forts there, and our artillery could not get them out. But had we got plenty of artillery we could have beaten the Germans with sticks. We have about three officers left. We crossed a bridge here which consisted of only one plank, the Germans shelling it all the time. They had blown it up on their retreat. So our engineers got one plank, an old boat, and a dead horse or two, and made a bridge ? you can guess what it was like. I captured an Uhlan's lance, but could not keep it, and a German artilleryman's helmet, but could not keep it either, as I had plenty to do to take care of myself. I don't see any Volunteers out here yet. They should come out to be in the fun. I have nothing more to say at present.'

Rifleman Boyd was home on sick furlough at the end of 1914, and, on his recovery, rejoined his regiment at the Front, and was again wounded, his injuries this time extending over the chest, face, and neck. His body was brought to Londonderry the day after his death at Edmonton Hospital, London. A comrade of the deceased, Rifleman T. Hillis, Royal Irish Rifles, wrote to Rifleman Boyd's widow stating that in a great charge, in which their company suffered very severely, he last saw the deceased, who was a bomb thrower, in his place on the flank of the company, and expressed the sympathy of his comrades with Mrs Boyd. 'Your husband,' he concluded, 'was a true soldier and a man, and I trust you will bear your great loss like a soldier's wife.'

Rifleman Boyd was buried in Londonderry City Cemetery. His funeral took place on Saturday, October 9, 1915, with military honours. The band and pipers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attended, and the same regiment supplied the firing party. The Reverend Leslie Rankin officiated in the house and at the graveside. At time of death deceased had two brothers, Alexander and George serving in the 10th (Derry) Battalion of the Ulster Division, and another brother, Albert in the Inniskillings, at the Dardanelles. Albert was gassed and wounded around August 1917, and spent time recovering in hospital in England. At that time Alexander was serving in France, and George in Salonika.

The name of John Boyd was read aloud during a special memorial service held in First Derry Presbyterian Church, on Friday, August 4, 1916, to pay tribute to the Presbyterian soldiers of the city of Londonderry, who had died during the first two years of the Great War. On the first anniversary of his death, Rifleman Boyd's wife and children had the following lines placed in a Londonderry newspaper:

'O God of Love, O King of Peace,

Bid wars amid this world do cease;

On earth there's strife, in Heaven peace;

They miss him most who loved him best.'