John was born in Wolverhampton on 3 September 1897, the son of Joseph and Emma Blythe. In 1901, his address was 18 Herbert Street, together with his parents and siblings Josiah, Lilly and Lizzie. They were at the same address in 1911, with an additional two siblings, William and Harold. On this census, John is known as Jack. On 11 September 1911, he became an Office Boy in the Great Western Railway Locomotive Department at Wolverhampton Station, where he worked until 25 November 1912.
On 19 October 1914, John enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 3435 and later 240817). His trade was given as blacksmith. He was promoted to Corporal and later acting sergeant. He spent a period in France and in Egypt. on 7 September 1918, the Express & Star announced that he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal “for conspicuous initiative and perseverance on the battlefield”. This was following an action where he, along with another non-commissioned officer and a private, “after careful reconnaissance on previous days, located and attacked an enemy post in daylight.” They took three prisoners, but while they were returning they were met by an enemy patrol of one officer and five men. Being outnumbered, and as the prisoners tried to escape, John immediately killed them and fired on the enemy patrol. He also brought back important information. His medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 30 October 1918. It was cited in full in the Express & Star on 1 November 1918.
John survived the war, and in 1923, he married Hannah L. Warbey in Wolverhampton, and they had a daughter, Betty L., later the same year. On 16 December 1934, he re-enlisted in the 6th Battalion for a period of four years. He died in Wolverhampton in 1957.