John was born in Wolverhampton in 1893, the son of Percy and Lily Swales. In 1901, they were living at 109 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, along with John’s brothers Edward and Charles. John attended the Wolverhampton Grammar School. The family were living at 25 Newbridge Street, Wolverhampton by 1911. John had “no occupation”.
John enlisted as a Private with the South Staffordshire Regiment (service number 9405), before being promoted to Second Lieutenant and later Captain in the North Staffordshire Regiment. John first served from 5 March 1915. On 19 May 1917, the Midland Counties Express carried his photograph, stating that he had been awarded the Military Cross
for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action on the night of 13-14th March, 1917, in establishing a bombing post on our left flank and holding it for two hours, although heavily counter-attacked by the enemy. He withdrew a short distance and reinforced another post on the left flank considrably in advance of the line we were holding. He held this post for twelve hours, until ordered to withdraw.
John survived the war, and died on 8 December 1978, by which date his address was Brewood House, Brewood, Staffordshire. The value of his effects was £42,655.