John enlisted on 17 September 1914 a week after his older brother at the beginning of the war. He was attached to the 6th Battalion, 1st Reinforcements and training at Broadmeadows. On 22 December 1914 he embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Themistocles. The ship sailed in across the Indian Ocean, bound for Egypt arriving early February.
After intense training the 6th Battalion landed at Gallipoli as part of the 2nd wave on the 25th April 1915. While attempting to hold back the Turks John was reported on 8 May 1915 as being wounded, then reported as wounded and missing. He was pronounced killed in action by a Court of Enquiry held on 24 April 1916. In 1920 his body was found in a Turkish Cemetery at Pine Ridge, exhumed and re-interred in the Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli.