John was born in Glossop but moved to the Heaton Norris area when he was young. He attended Christ Church School and, before he enlisted in the army, he lived with his sister, now Mrs Moores, at 118 Ince Street.
He had worked at the Brinksway Dye Works and, more latterly, at Marsland Ltd, Ancoats, Manchester. John joined the army at Ashton under Lyne.
Although John's date of death is officially recorded as 18 December, an examination of casualty records published after the War suggests that it must have been the previous day. The Regimental History records that, on the night of the 17/18th, eight soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant Parnell, carried out a raid on the enemy trenches opposite. Such raids were commonplace and were intended to capture prisoners to extract information. They also had the effect of unsettling the opposing troops who could never be certain if a noise in No Man's Land signalled the start of a raid.
On this occasion, all nine men carried a bludgeon, eighteen inches long, with an iron ring round the head. To ensure stealth and quietness, they took no rifles with them. They will have crawled across No Man's Land and dropped into the enemy trench. Creeping along the trench, they came across a German sentry who was captured, bound and gagged. Another German fired off a rifle before he could be attacked. This alerted the Germans and the raiding party quickly withdrew. The History notes that one of the party was killed, probably as they were withdrawing back to their own trenches. This must have been John as the casualty records show him to be the only fatality over the 17 & 18th December.