John Knowles was born in Stanningley, Yorkshire (between Leeds and Bradford) on April 20, 1887. His father, Joseph Butler Knowles was a Wool Merchant and Coffee Importer.
By 1911, John Knowles was living with his parents and five brothers and sisters in Leeds and he was employed as a commercial traveler for the finished goods of the wool business. He was commissioned as a temporary Lieutenant in the 11th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment on December 28, 1914.
He joined the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on July 2, 1915 in Gallipoli as they were going into the trenches. He was 28 years old. He fought in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard in command of three regimental machine guns and came through unscathed but was wounded on August 20, 1915 and evacuated to hospital in Alexandria where he remained for 136 days before rejoining the Battalion in Mudros on January 3, 1916. He was promoted to temporary Captain from January 25, 1916 to March 3, 1916 while commanding a Company of the 1/9th Manchesters. On May 1, 1916 he transferred to Base Depot and was struck off the strength of the Battalion. He remained attached to the Manchester Regiment but shortly after the war ended he relinquished his commission in the Yorks & Lancs Regiment due to ill-health as the result of wounds received in action. He retained the rank of Captain.
Captain John Knowles died on April 1, 1958 in Leeds. He was 70 years old.