In October 1938, after the Munich conference, a letter was sent to all general practitioners asking about their willingness to serve in the forces, and in which branch. Dr. Boyd volunteered for the R.A.F. (V.R.), Medical Branch. In the meantime, he was actively concerned in Hungerford organising the Civil Defence, in which he was Medical Officer. The First Aid Post and Decontamination Centre were at the old technical school (National School) in the High Street, and Dr. Boyd's posts included: Divisional Surgeon, St. John's Ambulance Brigade (staffing local Civil Defence Rescue Squads; Medical Officer, Red Cross V.A. Detachment, staffing First Aid Post; and Divisional Surgeon, St. John's Nursing Division, staffing First Aid Post.
In April 1939 Dr. Boyd joined the National Health Insurance Committee for Berkshire, as well as the Committee of the Berkshire Division of the British Medical Association.
In May 1939 (whilst Dr. James was away!), Dr. Boyd's wife Margaret gave birth to twin girls, in Manor House.
On 3rd September 1939 war was declared, and Dr. James returned from holiday. Dr. Boyd had to inform the Central Medical War Committee that he was not able to join war service, as the local F.A.P. was not yet fully organised and trained. In November the practice started to look for a locum who would help in the practice whilst Dr. Boyd was away.
Through March to June 1940, there were hectic preparations made by Dr. Boyd for his war service. By the March, he was happy that the F.A.P. was ready, and he informed the C.M.W.C. that he was able to leave. They replied in April that there were no longer any vacancies in the R.A.F. (V.R.), but offered him a place in the R.A.M.C. He decided to wait for a vacancy in the R.A.F.!
During May a suitable locum for the practice was found, who would come when a vacancy was found for Dr. Boyd! In June the locum said he wished to come to work without further delay, but when Dr. Boyd contacted the C.M.W.C. despite an initial offer of a place, they changed their mind and said there no longer was a vacancy. However, when Dr. Boyd told them the locum was already in Hungerford and that they must find a post for him, they almost immediately did find a vacancy, as a volunteer in Gibraltar, although they gave no further details. Despite this complete lack of information on the job he was to be required to do, Dr. Boyd accepted, and he set sail for Gibraltar on 30th June 1940 on board SS Orcades, from Southampton.
He arrived in Gibraltar on 3rd July, but did not have too warm a welcome. The Colonial Office had asked for "two men of recent surgical experience", but they had sent two G.P.s! So began Dr. Boyd's War Service, as Medical Officer of the Colonial Hospital, Gibraltar. However, the situation soon improved, and a full field hospital with extra staff soon arrived on the "Rock".
Meanwhile, back in Hungerford, the practice was suffering. In January 1941 the locum left, and Dr. Blake James, who by this time was aged 72 years, could not get a replacement. Mrs. Boyd's third daughter was born during January in Manor House. One locum they did obtain proved to have a drink problem, and it was clear that Dr. Boyd was urgently needed back in Hungerford.
He duly applied for release from the forces, which was granted within a month. He left for England on 31st January 1940, travelling in a slow convoy (6 knots), mostly unescorted. However, they arrived safely in the Mersey on 19th February, and proceeded straight to Hungerford.
He arrived back home on 21st February, and did evening surgery on his first night! During 1942-3, the various surgery staff were lost one by one, (except for the nurse). Even the cleaning was being done by Mrs. Boyd in the evening after surgery, and, when her fourth child was expected, the job was passed over to Dr. Boyd himself! After three weeks in Savernake Hospital, Margaret Boyd gave birth to their son on 5th January 1944.
Medicine in Hungerford:
- The Early Days - from the 13th century
- The Start of Organised Medicine - from 1550 to c1830
- Local Hospitals (including more distant ones used by Hungerford residents)