John received his medical education at Edinburgh University, qualifying M.B., C.M. in 1894. He joined the Army Medical Service on 29th July 1895 at the rank of Captain, then saw active service in the South African War 1900 to 1902. On 29th July 1907 he gained promotion to the rank of Major. From 29th December 1913 to the outbreak of war he was Deputy Assistant Director General in the medical section of the directorate of military operations at the War Office.
When war broke out he was mobilized as the Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services [D.A.D.M.S.] for staff duties under Col O'Keeffe. He embarked at Southampton, entering the war in Havre, France on 9th August 1914. From the start of the war, especially during the retreat from Mons, many British sick and wounded were admitted into French hospitals in various parts of France. Being linguist John was appointed to the French G.H.Q. in order to trace the British sick and wounded, and arrange for their transfer to British hospitals.
On 16th September 1914, when Col O’Keeffe left the lines of communication to take up duties of D.D.M.S. III Corps, John took over charge of the lines of communication medical administration. He remained at this post until 5th October 1914. On 1 March 1915 he gained promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1916 [L.G. 3/6/1916] he was appointed Companion Order of St Michael and St George.
On 24th December 1917 he was appointed D.D.M.S., Line of Communication, under the Inspector General of Communications in Italy.
He was the son of William, and the husband of Mary Gundreda, nee Ewart.