John Boyes was born in Cheltenham in June 1843. He entered the 75th Foot as an ensign in October 1861. He served at Tel-el-Kebir for which he received the Order of Osmanieh, and in the Sudan at El Teb and Tamai. He became Commanding Officer of the 1st battalion Gordon Highlanders in July 1887 and remained in that post until Feb 1891.
In the Boer War he commanded the 17th brigade, of Rundles's 8th Division. He never suffered a disaster or mishap and was created a CB for his efforts. For his command at the Brandwater Basin and Eastern Free State Operation he was mentioned in despatches. Boyes's HQ was established at Ficksburg and again at Vrede from where he organised action in the guerilla warfare. He reached the rank of Major-General.
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