John was the youngest of the five children of Joseph and Ann Wild. They had married in the Manchester area and their first child, Gertrude, had been born there. In the mid-1880s they moved to the Stockport area living first in Heaton Norris and, later, at 35 Warren Road, Cale Green. By the time of the War, Mrs Wild was living at 19 Lowfield Road, Stockport and, in the mid-1920s, at No. 89. Joseph Wild may have died by then.
Almost certainly, John will have been conscripted into the army when he became 18 and was assigned to the 2/9th Battalion. He will have been one of its members when it first went overseas in March of 1917.
On the day he was killed, John and his mates were midway through another tour of duty in the trenches in the Nieuport Bains sector. This was almost the Western end of the whole 400 mile front, where the trenches cut through the sand dunes and across the beach before reaching the English Channel. The enemy artillery had been active each day particularly during the hours of darkness. Casualties, although not always fatal, were experienced every day. The Battalion's War Diary for the 18th records "About 5.15am, an SOS signal was sent up by the Division on our right. Nothing happened on our front. Later during the day, enemy shelled the trench system fairly heavily."
John and Fred Bredbury, from Ashton under Lyne, were the Battalion's two fatalities of the day.