John is the first of the locally commemorated men to have been killed with the 15th Battalion.
His birth was registered at Stockport between April and June 1891. He had been a member of St Matthews's Sunday School. When he left school, he worked as one of the printing staff for the Stockport Advertiser. On Whit Sunday, 1915, he got married to Jane Heyes at Wycliffe Congregational Chapel, but it is not known where they lived for the next 12 months. On 8 April 1916, John enlisted into the army and, after training, went overseas on 24 July.
He will have joined the Battalion as one of a draft of replacements for casualties suffered a few days before, during major attacks as part of the opening of the Battle of the Somme. On 30 October, the Battalion went into the front line near the French town of Arras, relieving the 14th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. They had been here before, on their previous tour of duty, but found the trenches had now been badly damaged by enemy trench mortars and the wet weather.
On 2 November, the Battalion's War Diary records "Enemy trench mortars very active and systematically strafed our front line doing considerable damage. Casualties - 22 men were buried, of who 7 killed." John was one of those killed. He is now buried in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, next to five of his comrades who also died - William Brown, Harry Harrop, Stanley Oxley, Squire Riley and Charles Watson. The body of the seventh, Private William Jackson, from Thirsk, Yorkshire, was never found and identified.
BY the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission was collating its casualty information, Jane had married Alfred Gillham and was living at 42 Cunliffe Street, Edgeley.