John, who was born at Walcha, was working as a Miner at Copeton when he enlisted at Inverell in January 1916. He was twenty six years old when he joined with other district men to form the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs who left Inverell together on 10 January 1916 for the Narrabri and Armidale Camps.
He joined the 33rd Battalion, C Company, which trained at Armidale and Rutherford. Prior to his departure from Australia in May 1916, John returned to Copeton whilst on leave. He was given a farewell send off and presented with a ‘beautiful wristlet watch’. He was a popular young man and had for some time been the main musician at social functions at Copeton.
After nine weeks at sea, his Battalion arrived in England and further training was undertaken at Salisbury Plain. John was transferred to the 2nd Battalion in September and then sent to France. Twelve months later he was wounded in action and admitted to a Casualty Cleaning Station for treatment. He returned to his unit two months later. During March 1918 he had three weeks leave in England. Shortly after returning to France he was gassed and needed treatment for two months. He remained in France until February 1919 when he was returned to England and hospitalised there with pneumonia. John returned to Australia in May 1919.