Lt Stuart Boyd, Painter – Soldier

The story of a soldier painter – Lt Stuart Boyd

by Evelyn McKechnie

Lt Stuart Boyd was the only son of Alexander Stuart Boyd and Mary Stuart Boyd from Glasgow. The trio were talented artists and writers, and when Stuart succumbed to his wounds on Saturday 7th October 1916, it was like a light going out, and not just for his beloved parents. The world was robbed of a wonderful painter.

Lt Stuart Boyd Killed in Action 7th October 1916, Somme

When he died, his parents overwhelmed with grief, moved to the other side of the world in 1920. They set up a home in Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. They had previously visited there in 1919, not long after the end of the war. It is thought, Mary, his mother, had relatives there and they decided to leave Britain for good. Some people say New Zealand is a bit like Scotland but with warmer weather, I have never been myself but heard this statement many times.

He had fought with the 1st Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during the Battle of Morval in September 1916, one of the many battles of the Somme. So many talented and gifted writers, poets, artists, sportsmen, were lost on all sides, this is the story of just one of them.

Stuart was a painter and his paintings portrayed a warm, colourful and bright world – the very opposite of the trenches, of death, destruction and carnage of the Great War.

Sunshine and Shadows – Stuart Boyd 1912

Final Resting Place

His adoring parents had the following epitaph inscribed on his headstone:


Lt Stuart Boyd’s grave (courtesy of

Casualty Clearing Stations

Field ambulances also used the nearby Communal Cemetery for Commonwealth burials from September 1915 to August 1916, and again during the German advance of March 1918. It contains 127 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

The 45th and 56th (1st/1st South Midland) Casualty Clearing Stations came in September 1916 and remained until March 1917. The 3rd Australian were here in March and April 1917, and the 56th from April 1917 to February 1918.

The 3rd Casualty Clearing Station came in March 1918 but on 26 March, Dernancourt was evacuated ahead of the German advance, and the extension remained in their hands until the village was recaptured on 9 August 1918 by the 12th Division and the 33rd American Division. In September it was again used by the 47th, 48th and 55th Casualty Clearing Stations under the name of “Edgehill”, due to the rising ground on the north-west.

The extension now contains 2,162 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 177 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 29 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to two buried at Albert Road Cemetery, Buire-sur-Ancre whose grave could not be found on concentration.

The extension was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. (Info CWGC)

One of the first to join upSherwood Foresters

Sherwood Foresters on the Somme

Stuart was a soldier in the Sherwood Foresters, 3rd Battalion; attached 1st Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was one of the first of many to sign up in August 1914 and take the King’s shilling, originally enlisting in the Army Service Corps as Private No 856.

He was later commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 13th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters on 10th March 1915.

London Gazette 17th November 1915 with Stuart Boyd’s commission to 2nd Lt in the Sherwood Foresters

However, he did not remain with the 13th which was a reserve training battalion based at Rugeley and Broeten in Staffordshire. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion at Sunderland which was a training and holding battalion responsible for posting officers and men to battalions in France and Flanders.

On many occasions, they also posted men to other regiments as the need arose. He was promoted to Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion on 1st January 1916. And he was subsequently attached to the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in France in August 1916.

Carrying pickets and shovels Battle of Morval 1916

Stuart was wounded between 25th/28th September 1916 in the phase of the Battle of the Somme known as the Battle of Morval. It has not been possible to refine the time of his wounding more precisely although the battalion was involved in several attacks on German trenches in front of Eaucourt L’Abbaye on 26th, 27th and 28th September during which it suffered 212 casualties.

The Battle of Morval 1916 – Lt Boyd was wounded near Euacourt L’Abbaye (see arrow)

Stuart was brought back to the casualty clearing station at Dernancourt and lingered for over a week before succumbing to his wounds. The arrow is the location where Stuart and his battalion were fighting during the battle.

Headstone Inscription Report
Lt Stuart Boyd – CWGC Graves Registration Report
Cost of epitaph – 9 shillings and 7p – paid by his parents when in New Zealand

Epitaphs on the headstones were restricted to a maximum of 66 letters on four lines at a cost of around 3.5 pennies in old money. The Imperial War Graves Commission (the precursor to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) did not usually seek to recover the cost of the headstone inscription, if not paid. I suspect Stuart’s parents being quite financially well off, were one of those families who were able to pay.

Newspaper clipping of notification of his death

Sadly there are many headstones with no epitaph as many simply could not afford the cost. There is a vast difference in the number of epitaphs on Great War headstones as to those found on Second World War headstones. For those unknown soldiers, they always have the same epitaph – ‘Known Unto God’.

Lt Stuart Boyd – The Painter

Stuart Boyd was born on 7th June 1887 at 257 West George Street, Glasgow. Early census records show him named as Alexander Stuart Boyd but he dropped Alexander in later life. Perhaps not wanting to be confused with his father as he made strides to become an accomplished painter himself. Although his father was more renowned as an illustrator and cartoonist, and not a painter.

Study of a female figure made with coloured chalks 1910 – Stuart Boyd

Paintings in the Royal Academy Exhibitions

1909 – In Hyde Park

1914 – The British Resident and Lluch-el-Carre, Majorca

1916 – From under the vine

Sadly his painting at the 1916 Royal Academy would
be his last ever exhibited as he died in October 1916.

Landscape with Grapes and Apples – Stuart Boyd 1912

His parents’ love of the Balearics, especially Ibiza influenced his paintings, they all have a rich, colourful, vibrant appeal – nature at its best. You can almost feel the sunlight on your face, the warmth of the Mediterranean environment appealing to all your senses.

Stuart Boyd Monument in Glasgow Necropolis (courtesy of Friends of Glasgow Necropolis)
Location of Boyd Monument in Glasgow Necropolis – (courtesy of Friends of Glasgow Necropolis)

I wonder if Stuart’s parent’s visited his grave before they embarked for New Zealand, I think they would have done, albeit, heartbreaking for them as they knew they would not return. At least, they had a grave to pay last respects to.

Their friend Rudyard Kipling and his wife Carrie, would spend many years trying to find out if their son, John was still alive. It was only decades later, a grave in St Mary’s Advanced Dressing Station cemetery, near Loos in France, had ‘Known unto God’ removed and replaced with John’s name.

For the Boyd family they said goodbye to their son and embarked on the second chapter of their life, sadly for Stuart, he had hardly even turned the page on his life. We can only speculate what might have been, but that could be said for the lost generation of all combatants of the Great War.


Comments and a share would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Evelyn

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Published by spotonlocations

Scottish based company designing travel apps for historical locations. Travel apps that will take you on amazing journeys to destinations in history where famous events took place. Scotland, Castles, Clans, WW1 & WW2

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