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John was born in Wolverhampton in 1893, the son of Thomas and Bridget Barry. They were living at 1 Court, Gough Street, Wolverhampton, in 1901, along with John’s brothers, James and Edward. By 1911, John was boarding in the home of Thomas Grady at 18 Gandy Street, Warrington, where he was working as a labourer for a wire manufacturer.

John enlisted with the 1st/5th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment as a Private, first under the service number 4783 and later 241413. He was killed in action on 12 October 1918 in France. He is buried at the Busigny Communal Cemetery Extension.