Jack was born in Heaton Chapel, the only son of William and Mary. Nothing is known of his early life except that he had attended Stockport Grammar School. He was a keen sportsman and, in 1914, had won the School’s Sports Cup. He was also a playing member of the Heaton Mersey cricket and lacrosse clubs and also enjoyed playing football. At the time of the Great War, the family home was at “Claremont” on Manchester Road (later moving to “Holly Bank”, Woodley).
On 8 March 1915, Jack enlisted into the army, joining the Royal Fusiliers. After training, he was transferred to the Royal Naval Division (service number Z/1432). The Division was created just after the outbreak of War and its original members were Royal Marines and naval reservists for whom no ship was available. Brought together in September 1914, they fought on land throughout the War as infantry. They proudly retained their naval ranks and many naval traditions.
On 5 May 1915, Jack joined Hawke Battalion’s “D” Company at Gallipoli and fought through that campaign until he was wounded on 27 December, almost certainly by shrapnel. He had separate wounds to his right arm, head, chest, back and legs. After being treated at a field hospital and, possibly, fuller facilities at Malta or Egypt, he was evacuated back to the UK on 11 January 1916 and spent seven months in hospital. After discharge, he returned home on sick leave and did not rejoin Hawke until 16 July 1917. They were then in France. He remained with them until 26 October when he again returned to the UK, this time to train to become an officer.
He received his commission as a Sub-Lieutenant on 29 May 1918 but was not attached to his new unit – Hood Battalion - until 1 October. Only a week later, he would lead his men into action for the first and last time. On the night of 7/8 October, the Battalion moved to assembly positions north east of Rumilly ready for an attack at dawn on enemy defences at Niergnies (near to the French town of Cambrai). The plan was that the enemy front line in front of the village would be attacked by the Drake Battalion and a battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. Once this was secured, Hood Battalion and a battalion of Marines would leapfrog them to capture the actual village and positions on its far side.
Zero hour was 4.30am and, by 6, the first objective had been secured. Jack and his men now advanced and, in less than three hours, their objective had also been captured.
However, at 9.30, the Germans launched a strong counter-attack; their infantry being supported by seven tanks which had been captured from the British. In a twist of fate, Hood Battalion’s commander personally supervised turning a captured German field gun onto one of the captured British tanks to put it out of action. By 9.55, the gains had been re-secured, but there was hard fighting all morning with several more counter-attacks made. At 3pm, after an artillery barrage, the British advance pressed on still further. 73 men from the Division had been killed and another 540 wounded, but they had taken 1200 prisoners and captured 81 machine guns and 9 field guns.
Jack had been badly wounded in the left side and was evacuated to 29th Casualty Clearing Station some miles away at Beugny. At this field hospital, military surgeons will have done all they could to save his life but without success.