John lived at 11 Middle Row, Stevenage, with his wife Dorcas and their three children, Frederick, Alec and Gladys. His eldest son was serving as a Private in the Royal Fusiliers. John had worked as a ticket collector for Great Northern Railways for 20 years when he joined the Army. He had served for eight years at Hitchin railway station and had also worked for the company in Nottingham. He was a Trade Union official in the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and spent most of his spare time working for the cause. He also played the organ at the local Roman Catholic Church and was keenly interested in Ambulance work.