John was a son of James and Ellen Ramsay of Emmaville where his birth was registered in 1887. His father selected land in the district about the 1890s.
John lived at Rocky Creek where he worked as a Farmer. As a single man, aged twenty nine, he enlisted at Inverell in June 1916. After joining the 33rd Battalion, 4th Reinforcement, he sailed from Australia in October 1916 on the ship HMAT A30 Borda, arriving in England in January 1917. Further training was undertaken at Salisbury Plain before going to France in March.
During the Battle of Messines in June he was wounded and later rejoined his unit. Private John Ramsay died of wounds in July 1918 and was buried at Pernois British Cemetery, France. His few personal effects, which included a Rosary, disc, wallet, letters and photos, were returned to his sister Bridget at Emmaville.