The son of Samuel and Leah Rachel, John was born in 1892 in Gornal. They were living in Tipton in 1901 and by 1911 they were at 19 Park Street South, Wolverhampton. John and his parents were joined by his siblings Frederick Howard, Samuel, Gladys Maud, Dora Lydia, Reuben, Clara, Ernest, Florence Beryl and Leonard. John was working as a whitesmith, a metal worker who deals in tin, light metals and white enamelled goods. In 1913, he married Nellie Eagle in Wolverhampton, and the couple had two children – Irene N. (1913) and John T. (1915). Unfortunately, Irene died in 1915, not long before the birth of her younger brother. At some point, John worked for Messrs Green and Russell of Thomas Street, Wolverhampton, and the family lived at 10 Green Lane, Wolverhampton.
In April 1915, he enlisted in the 2nd/3rd North Midland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (first number 1997, later number 810321). On 10 August 1917, he became a Corporal. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, which was announced in the London Gazette on 28 September 1917. This was also announced in the Express & Star on 3 November 1917. However, he was killed in action on 30 September 1917. The Midland Counties Express of 10 November 1917 quoted a letter that had been sent home to his wife, which stated that:
His loss was a big blow to the battery, for his kindly and cheerful spirit had made him popular with all ranks. His place will be a difficult one to fill. On behalf of the battery, may I offer you my heartfelt sympathy in your great loss.
The Express & Star of 3 November 1917 carried the same article. John is buried at the Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, and is remembered on the war memorial of St Luke’s Church, Blakenhall, although he appears to be listed as “J. L. Parkes” on there.