John had been born in Romiley and is believed to have still been living there, at East Street, with his father, also called John, when he enlisted in the Army. He joined up at Stockport during 1916.
The 1901 Census records John as being then aged 16 and working a Cotton Tenter in the card room of a mill. Later he changed employers and, at the time of enlistment, he was working at Schofield's Bleachworks. His father was also working in a mill as a steam boiler fireman (in 1901, he was 39).
The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) had started on 31 July 1917. The 10th Cheshires did not take part in the attack but were moved forward in readiness during the morning. The next day, they relieved the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment on the newly captured Bellewarde Ridge. The Commanding Officer, Colonel Johnson, kept a diary during this period from which the following is extracted:-
"The Battalion began to arrive about 3.50am. The men were fearfully done up, having slithered about in the dark night, wet to the skin, and carrying a lot of extra weight. I felt very bad at having to line them out in the swamp and put them in little groups in crump holes, most of which were deep in water. There was a little shelling and being out in the open, we began at once to have casualties.......About midday, the Germans started to bombard us heavily and kept it up for the rest of the day. We had an awful time. There was no cover for the men. Trenches were soon non-existent, or became wet ditches in which men often sank up to their waists and it often took six men to pull one man out of the mud. The Germans had got the range to an inch, had direct observation on to us from our right and plastered the area incessantly with crumps, whizz-bangs and 4.2s. Our casualties mounted rapidly.......Many wounded sank in the mud and were drowned in it before assistance could reach them or before they were discovered......We had about 200 casualties in the day and, besides this, there were men dropping from cold and exhaustion.......As it got dark, the shelling subsided but not the rain. The men just had to make the best of things and spent the night in the mud, often up to their waists. Fortunately, we managed to get some rum which warmed them up a bit."
John was one of 39 Cheshires to be killed in the awful conditions of the day. He has no known grave.