Lieutenant Colonel James Ring qualified from Queens University of Ireland in 1872. He entered the Army Medical Department as a surgeon in 1873.
He served in the Zulu War of 1879 (medal) and in the First Boer War of 1881 when he was present in the engagements at Laing's Nek (mentioned in despatches) and the Ingogo River and Majuba Hill (mentioned in despatches).
Surgeons James Ring, James McGann and Surgeon-Major Thomas Babington were all mentioned by Sir George Colley in his dispatch of 1 February 1881 for distinguished service in attending to the wounded under fire at the battle of Laing's Nek.
The British Medical Journal Reported:
Ninety-five invalids left Natal for England in the Thames on 30 April 1881. Most of them were from the 58th, 6oth, and 92nd Regiments, who were wounded at the battles of Laing's Nek, Schuinshoogte and Majuba Hill. The shower of bullets must have been heavy indeed, for many of them were shot in two or three places. There were penetrating wounds of the chest, abdomen, groins, hips, legs, arms, joints and eyes. An examination of these men and their wounds proves how much credit is due to Drs Babington, Ring and McGann of the army and Dr Mahon of the navy, who were in the front during the whole of this critical period, for the care and skill which has resulted in the recovery of such serious injuries. Surgeon-Major Stokes, at the base-hospital, Newcastle, had many successful cases after the battle of the Ingogo.1
Lieutenant Colonel James Ring died at Rawalpindi on 16 October 1898. His obituary appeared in the British Medical Journal:
The Medical Service has sustained, in this officer's death, a great loss. He was the soul of industry and devotion to duty, and displayed energy in the performance of responsible professional work, but these qualifications were not sufficient to obtain the recognition they so well deserved. Lieutenant Colonel Ring was mentioned no fewer than five times in despatches, and yet never received a Distinguished Service Order, while, it may fairly be said, many a subaltern has obtained the DSO for being mentioned perhaps only once. Truly has it been stated that zeal and self-sacrifice in the Medical Service of the army are not sufficient for recognition or advancement, without influence at one's back. Lieutenant Colonel Ring got a chill during the Tirah Expedition and the kidneys became affected, death being caused by cardiac failure. This officer had only about a year to complete his Indian service. Those associated with Lieutenant-Colonel Ring on duty knew him to be thoroughly conscientious in his work.