The son of John and Mary J. Smith, John was born in Wolverhampton in 1878. He attended Willenhall Road Council School. In 1901, they were living at 70 Lower Villiers Street, Wolverhampton. John had become an edge tool grinder. John married Annie Lowe in Wolverhampton in 1902. By 1911, they were living at Nechells Green, Aston, with four children – William Thomas, Louisa May, John Henry and Susannah. The couple had another daughter, Doris Annie, but unfortunately she died on 5 June 1916 of pertussis and convulsions.
When war broke out he was working as an edge tool grinder at the Park Mills, Nechells, Birmingham. He enlisted with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (service number 16203), before being transferred to the 253rd Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper (number 151410). He was reported as missing on 27 April 1916, and his family received official confirmation of his death on that date in April 1917. He was featured in the Midland Counties Express on 12 May 1917. He is remembered at the Arras Memorial.