Regimental records show that John was born in Manchester (and enlisted into the army there). He spent most of his early life living in Marple, at 9 Mellor Street, with his aunt and uncle until they both married. He had a sister who is also thought to have lived with the relatives. She later married a Mr Challenor and, in 1915, was living at 7 Charlotte Street, Portwood, Stockport (and is probably the person responsible for ensuring that John was commemorated on the Stockport War Memorial.
John is also known to have lived in the Portwood area as he attended St Paul's church and furthered his education at the church's Sunday school. At some point, John married Catherine and they would have two children together.
John probably enlisted into the army shortly after war was declared in August 1914 and will have been assigned to the 1st Battalion to bring it up to strength when it returned from Burma in January 1915.
The Battalion, part of 29th Division, left Avonmouth in March 1915 and was part of the first landings at Gallipoli on 25 April.
On 28 June, the British planned a major attack to try, once again, to gain some momentum in the campaign. The Borders were tasked with capturing a Turkish position they knew as Boomerang Redoubt. General Sir Ian Hamilton later recounted, describing the Redoubt as "this little fort, which was very strongly sited and protected by extra strong wire entanglements, had long been a source of trouble" At 11am, zero hour, "A" and "B" Companies attacked, the General describing it "The Border Regiment at the exact moment prescribed leapt from their trenches as one man, like a pack of hounds and, pouring out of cover, raced across and took the work most brilliantly."
"A" Company now came under heavy fire from a ridge to the north west, but because of the lie of the land was unable to fire back effectively. "B" Company established a firing line about 300 yards away and started to fire at the ridge. This covering fire kept the Turkish heads down and allowed "A" Company to join them. A little later, the enemy could be seen retiring from the ridge, but the Borders now came under what the Regimental History describes as a "terrific rifle and machine gun fire" from well concealed positions on the other side of the valley.
By 1.20pm, the enemy, now in vastly superior numbers, started to close in on the British troops. The closer range meant that their fire was even more accurate and casualties started to rise. The History continues "Up to this, Captains Morton and Moore, by their fine example of coolness and courage, had kept the firing line steady, but now the cry of "retire" was raised on the right and a somewhat precipitate retreat set in, and it was with some difficulty and chiefly through the gallant exertions of Colonel Hume, Captain Morton and other officers, that the line was rallied and a fresh defensive position taken up 200 yards south."
Colonel Hume was shot a little later (and died on 1 May) and Captain Morton withdrew the remnants of the Borders after it had gone dark. 160 men were dead, wounded or missing. As with many of the deaths at Gallipoli, it was simply not safe to retrieve the bodies from No Man's Land. The Helles Memorial has inscribed the names of nearly 21000 soldiers who, like John, have no known grave.
After the War, Catherine remarried, to a Mr Quaile, and, in the early 1920s, was living at 55 Manchester New Road, Middleton.