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John was born in Tettenhall in 1900, the son of William Henry and Mary Ann Gabb. In 1901 they were living at 269 Nursery Walk, Tettenhall, along with John’s siblings Evelyn and Charles William. The family were living at 10 Manor Street, Tettenhall, by 1911, with an additional son, Hubert.

John enlisted with the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment (service number 50765), and later transferred to the 10th Battalion of the Essex Regiment (number 44779). He was killed in action on 23 August 1918. He is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France, as well as on the memorial of St Michael and All Angels Church in Tettenhall.