John was one of three brothers who served during the War but is thought to have been the only who had been a regular soldier before the War. He had joined the army as a young man and had completed his term and returned to civilian life in Stockport living at the family home at 29 Duke Street. When War was declared in August 1914, he was still on the reserve list and was recalled to the colours. Within a month, he was in France and, days later, was involved in hard fighting in the latter stages of the Battle of the Aisne.
In the summer and early autumn of 1916, John and his comrades were again in the thick of things during the Battle of the Somme and, sometime during this period, he undertook a now unknown act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. His officer wrote to Mrs Gannon “Allow me to congratulate your son through you on receiving this well-deserved award. No doubt, you will read of it but to realise fully what cool bravery he showed one must have been there. I consider it one of the coolest and bravest deeds I have witnessed and he may rest content that he saved another life by his action.”
In comparison with the fighting of the previous summer, the attack on 11 February 1917 was small scale affair but the Stockport Advertiser reported that John was “shot and killed as he sprang over the parapet to charge the German trenches with his comrades.”
Lieutenant Wheatcroft wrote to his parents “I have only had the honour of being his platoon commander for the last four months or so, but from the first, I realised that he was one of the best men in the platoon and, indeed, of the Battalion. You may rest assured that every care will be taken to mark and tend the place where he is buried.” Wheatcroft was probably Lt. William Wheatcroft. He survived John by just over three weeks, dying on 7 March.
After the War, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Mr and Mrs Gannon had moved to 2 Lomas Court, Lord Street, Stockport.