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John was born in Wolverhampton in 1883, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Gallagher. In 1891 he was living with his parents at 151 Wolverhampton Road, Trysull, along with siblings Thomas, William and Nellie. By 1901 he was working for the Hickman family at Wightwick as a groom. By 1911, he was still a groom, now working for the family of N. Gordon Mainwaring Jervis at Beacon Hill, Penkridge, Staffordshire.

John enlisted as a Driver in the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery (service number 91346). He first served in France from 3 September 1915. He was awarded the Military Medal, as published in the London Gazette on 11 May 1917. Unfortunately, he was also wounded, and transferred back to the UK. He died of these wounds at the Royal Salop Infirmary in Shrewsbury on 13 April 1917, a hundred years ago today. He is buried at Trysull (All Saints) churchyard. He also appears on the Trysull war memorial.