According to Regimental records published after the War, John had been born in the Stockport area. In 1914, he married Annie Keating in a civil ceremony at Stockport and they set up home together at 30 Grimshaw Street. He was a man of medium height and fair hair and worked in Bredbury for the machine tool making firm of Pollock and McNab.
He was conscripted into the army in September 1916 and was assigned to the Yorkshire Regiment (service number: 9878). This service is not listed on his medal entitlement records held on-line at the National Archhives. This confirms that he didn't serve abroad with the Yorkshires and was, no doubt, transferred to the King's Regiment when he went overseas, after training, in May 1917.
On 31 July, the Battalion was in reserve and would support in other units which would lead an attack. This day would later be officially designated as the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (more commonly known as Passchendaele). The leading units attacked at dawn and, at 6.30am, the Battalion moved from camp to the Chateau Segard and, then to Zillebeke Lake, arriving there at 10am.
Orders were issued that it was to go into the attack during the afternoon and, at 4pm, it moved to Maple Copse ready to form up. Shortly afterwards, the attack was cancelled but German artillery was now firing onto this sector to prevent further troops attacking. The King's suffered casualties and the men took what shelter they could find in shell holes. At 10pm, they finally went forward to relieve a Battalion near the road between Hooge and Menin. The Regimental History records "Violent shell fire was still falling over the whole area, the darkness was intense and the "going" terrible." More casualties were suffered as they moved forward until the relief was completed at 3.30am on 1 August.
When the roll was called, John was known to have been wounded but was missing. He was alive when he was last seen, but no trace of him was ever found again. Hope that he would be discovered, perhaps unconscious in a field hospital, gradually faded and, in November 1917, the War Office pronounced that he must have died. Although it can now never be known what happened, it is probable that John was wounded whilst the men were taking cover in the shell holes and died there. His body may then have been buried by further shellfire.