Regimental records published after the War indicates John had been born in Caernarfon. Although it cannot be said for certain that it is the same person, a birth of a boy of the the same name was registered there in the opening months of 1879. In 1899, he married Elizabeth Ann Jones in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport but the couple probably returned to live in North Wales. Two years later, when a Census was taken, a couple with the right names were living in Merthyr Tydfil, where John was working as a repairer. They had a daughter, Winifred, who had been born in Penmaenmawr.
By the time of the Great War, they must have returned to the Stockport area as John enlisted into the army in the town. He was assigned to the Herefordshire Regiment (service number 5485) but this was just for training purposes. Before going overseas on active service, he was transferred to the West Kents.
On the night of 2/3 October 1917, the Battalion took over a section of the front line, south east of Veldhoek. In spite of some hostile shelling, the relief of the other unit was undertaken without significant incident. However, the men had hardly settled in, when the German infantry attacked at about 5am. They managed to get into the British trench system in several places before being forced to retreat.
30 minutes later, another attack fell on the part of the line being held by "C" Company. The men were more prepared this time and managed to stop the Germans from getting closer than 50 yards. They took cover in shell holes in No Man's Land and, as recorded in the Regimental History, offered good targets to British snipers as they tried to get back to their own line. In spite of these successes, casualties amongst the West Kents continued to climb throughout the day due to accurate shelling from the Germans.
During the evening, the Battalion closed up and prepared for an attack the next day. Heavy fighting had been underway around Ypres (now Ieper) since 31 July as the British tried to battle their way up to the Passchendaele Ridge, in a series of "bite and hold" advances. This attack would later gain the official title as the Battle of Broodseinde. The Regimental History notes "The Battalion had no very precise objective, for the enemy were not holding any well-defined trench line...on the right "C" Company was to advance 300 yards and "B" some 600 yards."
As the protective British artillery barrage started to roll across No Man's Land, the infantry followed closely behind. Mud proved to be the main obstacle, although "C" came under enfilade machine-gun fire from a pillbox , which meant the Company had to form a defensive flank. Elsewhere the attack had been more successful. There were several counter-attacks but these were beaten off. By 12.30pm, the position had been fully secured and consolidation was under way. The reserve platoons were now sent forward to help the garrison.
John and another local man, James Farmer, were amongst the dead.