John was born 26 January 1886 in Dromore, County Down. He had an older brother and at least 2 sisters. His father Archie, a Shoemaker, died when John was 6 years old. John worked as a Flax Mill Labourer until, in March 1907, when he enlisted in the navy. In March 1912, he transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve, Chatham. At the outbreak of war, John’s widowed mother (a seamstress) was living with one of his sisters at Spring Street, Belfast. John served as a Stoker, 1st Class, on the HMS Aboukir, from July 1914. On 22 September 1914 his ship was torpedoed by German submarine U9. John drowned as a result of this action, in which around three quarters of the crew of the Aboukir perished – he was 28. His body was not recovered – his name is among those on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent.