Nothing is known of John's early life except that he was born in Stockport, the son of Richard and Annie. In 1914, he married Harriett Croft at St Paul's Church, Portwood. They may not have lived nearby as, in the early 1920s, she is known to be at 7 Newton Street, Hyde (although Stockport is the only local War Memorial which bears his name).
When he joined the army, it was probably well into 1915 (and possibly later). He was assigned to the South Lancashire Regiment and given the service number of 5248. However, before going overseas on active service, he was transferred to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (service number 237436) before a further transfer to the Warwicks.
At the end of November, the British Army launched a large scale attack on the Germans near the northern French town of Cambrai. The advance lasted several days but, by the end of the month, the Germans had regrouped and were heavily counter-attacking.
In this sector, the front line had moved several times over the course of the War and the trench systems, originally separate, had now become interlinked. On the 5th, the German attack took the form of occasional very heavy shelling of the Warwicks positions followed by an infantry attack through the trench system. The Germans would move down the trench, throwing grenades in front of them to clear the way. The British returned fire in kind and a vicious grenade "duel" took place in Emden Trench. It left 12 men dead and another 52 wounded. The next day, the attacks continued but casualties were much lighter - only one man dead and 9 wounded.
John is known to have been wounded during the fighting, probably on the 6th, but died before he could be evacuated to a field hospital. Another local man, Ernest Dickinson, had been killed on the 5th.