Other than John's inscription on the Stockport War Memorial his connection with the borough is unknown. Perhaps he worked in the town or had a relative living here who wanted him remembered.
He was born in the Gorton area of Manchester the son of Ralph (a blacksmith) and Elizabeth. At the time of the Census in 1901, the family was living at 184 Napier Street, Gorton. John was then aged 6. The family had previously lived in Salford where his sisters, Marion, Beatrice and Sarah were born. His sister Gertrude and his two younger brothers, James and Ernest, were also born in Gorton.
It is known that John was married as his widow is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as his next of kin. However, when the Commission collected its information in the early 1920s, she had remarried and is only recorded as Mrs McBurnie. Her address was 1 Kirkstall Street, Ardwick, Manchester.
John originally enlisted into the King's Liverpopol Regiment (service number 28786). At some point, he was transferred to the Fusiliers. This will probably have been after a long period of sick leave recovering from wounds or illness. When he was ready to return to duty, the Fusiliers will have been in greatest need of troops.
John was killed at the Second battle of Gaza in an attack on Turkish troops. From early morning on 19 April, artillery bombarded the Turkish positions for two hours, before the infantry advanced at 7.30am. The Fusiliers were on the left and the 5th Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers on the right. The Regimental History recounts "The first points of the ridge Queens Hill and Lees Hill were taken by 8.15am by 4/Royal Scots Fusiliers. Middlesex Hill followed at 11am, but 200 yards from Outpost Hill came a storm of machine gun and shrapnel fire."
Around this time the Colonel commanding the Battalion and the Major were both wounded. "The Battalion was now scattered over a fire-swept area: for a time no-one knew who was left to take command and the advance was stayed. The rest of the day saw desperate fighting for Outpost Hill, a struggle to which it was hard to send re-enforcements since, on that sharp ridge the attack must be on a narrow front. Again and again, the Fusiliers and Borderers rush the summit and again and again they were driven out of it. But after noon it was carried. "
The troops on Outpost Hill now found that their communications were cut off. An officer, Lieutenant Logon, tried to set up a telephone but the wire was too short. He set out to get more and was never heard of again. He has no known grave.
The Turkish army counter attacked on several occasions but these were beaten off but at some considerable cost in casualties. "As the sun set, there were only 70 left on Outpost Hill and the Turks were working round the flanks. There was nothing for it but to slip away and this was done in the first hour of darkness. Middlesex Hill also had to be relinquished and the last Scots Fusilier left that point at 10.15pm. A line of defence was prepared covering Lees Hill."
61 Fusiliers had been killed, including John.