John was born in Slater Street, Bradley, in 1893, the son of William and Mary Lee. He attended St Martin’s School, and later worked at Sankey’s. In 1901, he appeared (listed as “Jack”) with his parents at 61 Edward Street, Bradley, along with his brothers William, Thomas, David and Henry. By 1911, he was living with his widowed mother at 20 Edward Street, Bradley, along with siblings William, David and Henry. John was listed as a Machinist at an Engineering Works.
On 11 October 1914, he enlisted in the 1/6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 3248). He first served on 5 March 1915. He later transferred to the 148th Machine Gun Corps (number 21823). He was killed in action on 3 Jul 1917. An article in the Midland Counties Express, dated 6 October 1917, quoted a letter written to his mother by the second lieutenant of his section: “I can assure you there was no better soldier living. The section have lost a great chum and comrade, and they join with me in sending their sincere condolences.” The article also mentioned that he had a brother serving in the Royal Garrison Artillery, but it wasn’t clear which brother this was. Further details of the circumstances surrounding his military service and his death have been provided by his great nephew. He is commemorated at the Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, and on the Bradley Memorial Roll of Honour