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John was born in Wolverhampton, apparently in 1874 according to his birth registration, although all other sources appear to indicate it was 10 years later. He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth. He married Annie Wesley in 1908, and they had two children – John and Annie Elizabeth – by 1911. In 1911 he was living with his family at 6 Brickkiln Place, Wolverhampton. John was a carter for a general carrier. They had a further child, Elizabeth, in 1912.

John enlisted as a Corporal in the East Yorkshire Regiment (number 36305). On 29 March 1917, his name was listed in the Express & Star as having been wounded. However, he survived the war. He died in 1958 in Wolverhampton.