John's father, also called John Norbury, married Hannah Burgess in the spring of 1883, at St Paul's Church, Portwood, Stockport. By the time of the 1901 Census, they had four daughters and their only son, John, who was always known as Jack. The Census notes the family as being John, senior, 52 (a builder); Hannah, 46; Elizabeth, 17; Carrie, 15; Jessie, 9; John, 6 and Dorothy, 5.
When war was declared on 4 August 1914, Jack was quick to enlist, joining up later in the month. He originally served with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (service number 14787), going overseas on active service in September 1915. At some point, he was transferred to the Cyclist Corps. At the beginning of the war, the main roles for the Corps were in reconnaissance and to act as despatch riders. However, as the war settled into the stagnation of the trenches, the cyclists regularly found themselves being used as normal infantry in the front line trenches.
Lieutenant J H C Lindesay wrote to Mr & Mrs Sidebotham to tell them what had happened to Jack. "I am writing to offer you and your family my sincere sympathy in your grief. He was standing in front of the line at his work when a sniper's bullet passed through the sandbag parapet and struck him in the head. It is slight consolation to know that he suffered no pain and he remained unconscious till he passed away just before reaching the dressing station. I have known him during the whole of his training. He was in my platoon in the Loyal North Lancashires and came with me to the cyclists and I may say that a more trustworthy, hard-working and cheerful man it would be hard to find anywhere. But apart from the soldier, I feel that in the man I have lost a firm and upright friend."
Sergeant Major Edward Jones also wrote and confirmed that Jack had been shot about 1.30pm and lost consciousness at once. "His comrades dressed the wound and bore him away - doing all that could possibly be done for him. We all mourn the loss of a gallant comrade. As a soldier, I knew him to be one of the best - always ready and willing and reliable."
2nd Lieutenant Raymond Penny concluded "He was buried this afternoon at three o'clock and all the men in the company attended, including Captain Hemming and myself. He was carried by other members of No. 2 Platoon. His grave is in a military cemetery here, at the foot of a hill, covered with trees and it will be well tended and looked after and a wooden cross will be erected to mark it."