John was born in Clifton, Bristol, on 21st May 1919, the son, grandson and great-grandson of Church of England clergymen. He attended Hill Brow prep school in Eastbourne, followed by Marlborough.
In 1938 he went up to Queens College, Cambridge, to read French and German. He greatly enjoyed his membership of the Officers’ Training Corps and represented Queens at cross-country running and hockey. In autumn 1940, after his first two academic years at Queens’, the war required his service and he attended an Officer Cadet Training Unit at Droitwich, after which he was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the Middlesex Regiment. In the latter part of the war, he worked at the Inter-Services Topographical Department, based at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
After the war, he joined the Central Office of Information (COI), the successor to the wartime Ministry of Information and the department responsible for all government publicity and information services. He spent his whole career there, working in different parts of the organisation, including the Films Division and Reference Division. It was at COI that he met his wife Betty, with whom he had one daughter, Jennifer.
From a very early age, his great love was of nature, most of all birds, fostered by having grown up in fine country Rectories with large gardens and easy access to surrounding countryside. His fondest memories of Hill Brow were of nature-watching walks on the downs, and at Marlborough of walks and bike rides in Savernake Forest and on the downs, and bird-watching by the river Kennet. Later, he also became a keen gardener.
John was a devoted husband and father, kind, gentle, patient, and loving. Those qualities, and his courtesy, meant that many who knew him described him as a “perfect English gentleman”. His wife died in 2014 and John passed away on 28th July 2021, aged 102. They are survived by their daughter Jennifer.