The family had been in Wymeswold for over a hundred years, but John’s father decided in the last years of Victoria’s reign to move to Leicester. The city was growing thanks to engineering and knitwear companies, so opportunities for both work and housing may have seemed attractive.
In 1907 John joined the army. He had already been a Militia volunteer, serving with the 4th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. On joining the regulars, he was sent to the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, and in 1910, went with them to India. By 1915, they were on the Western Front, distinguishing themselves at the battle of Neuve La Chapelle.
From there they were briefly recalled to India, but by 1917 they were deployed in Iraq, where General Maude was trying to retake the strategically important town of Kut-al-Amara. Somewhere near the town of Masoudiyeh (possibly modern day Mshahdh) he fell ill with peritonitis, and died. In the Mesopotamian campaign, the causes of death were almost evenly distributed between those killed in action or died of wounds – 14,818, and those who died of disease – 12,807. John’s body was interred at Amara British Cemetery, near Baghdad.