James Cheyne enlisted in the A.I.F. in 1916. He fought in France until he was captured by the Germans. He was a prisoner of war in a camp in Poland for the last 19 months of the war.
Cheyne came to the Stuart Ranges in 1919 on his return from service with the Australian Infantry in World War I. He was an opal miner, water carter with his brother Arthur and store keeper.