Nothing is known of John's early life, except that Regimental records published after the War confirm he was born in Stockport. He was a skilled man, working as a cooper for local brewers, Bell & Co at their premises on Hempshaw Lane. He was married to Nellie. She was probably Nellie Warburton who is recorded as marrying a John Ardern in 1907 at St Matthews Church, Stockport. After the War, her address was 3 Glanvore Road, Edgeley, but it's not known if this is the home she shared with John.
On 14 June 1917, John and his comrades took part in an attack on German positions known as Hook and Tool trenches, near the village of Monchy. One company supported the attack by the 2nd Suffolks, another supported the 1st Gordon Highlanders, while the remaining two companies remained as the garrison for the British front line. It was surprise attack with no preliminary artillery bombardment and was entirely successful. Later in the day, the Germans mounted a strong counter-attack but this was beaten off with machine gun and rifle fire.
Soon afterwards, the German artillery opened up and the shelling continued for several hours with 96 Fusiliers being killed or wounded. On the 16th, a second German counter-attack was delivered and this had some success, capturing several of the Fusiliers advanced posts. The next day, the Highlanders, with the supporting company of Fusiliers tried unsuccessfully to retake one of these posts. It was, most probably during this latter engagement that John was killed. His body was never recovered and identified.
A month later, the Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 26 July, published an "In Memoriam" notice from Nellie:
"Worthy of everlasting love
From those you left behind
A better husband never lived
And none more true and kind"