John was born in Heaton Norris, the son of William and Letitia, 8 Rhyl Street.
He enlisted into the army, probably in 1916, joining the local reserve Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and was given a service number of 3112. This number does not appear on his medal entitlement records, although a later number, 266069, does appear. Six-digit service numbers were not issued until the beginning of 1917, confirming he did not go overseas until at least then. At some point, not long before he died, he was transferred to the Shropshires.
John died in a military field hospital at Poperinge. It cannot be known for certain when he was wounded, but it will have only been a day or so before he died (otherwise he would have been further evacuated to a more permanent hospital facility on the Channel coast or in Britain).
The Battalion's War Diary contains a short record of the days preceding his death. On 16 October, the men moved from reserve billets in huts at Ridge Wood, a little way from the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper) to support trenches north of the Menin Road. They relieved a Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. The Diary notes that the enemy artillery was very active during the relief and 29 men were wounded.
The days following would also be characterised by heavy artillery fire. During the evening of the 17th, several shells fell near Battalion headquarters wounding 14. The next day, the diary writer thought it worthy to note that there was considerable aeroplane activity by both sides. A working party was provided to carry rations to the battalions in the front line. Another 5 men were wounded and one killed. On the 19th, both sides exchanged artillery fire. Six men were killed and another 11 wounded.
John's platoon commander wrote to the family saying he had only known John for a short time but he had shown himself capable, plucky and trustworthy.
Reporting his death, the local newspaper noted that John's two brothers, Will and Sam, were also abroad on active service. His married sister, Julia, lived at 55 Church Street. Another married sister lived at 49 Ince Street.