ohn was born in Edinburgh and, in 1903, his family moved south to take up residence in Cliffe. His family consisted of William Norman (his father), Barbara Jessie (his mother) and ten children: five boys and five girls. After moving to Cliffe another boy was born into the family.
Prior to the start of the war John Neil McLeod enlisted into the regular army, the Seaforth Rangers, that was part of the British Expeditionary Force and during this period he rose to the rank of Corporal.
In 1916 John was shot through the neck and paralysed down the right side – he returned home to Cliffe. Within a year of his return his father was involved in a tragic road accident where he died and it is said that the shock of his father’s death caused an almost complete recovery of John’s injury.
John was sent to work at a munitions factory across the Thames in Essex. On one particular night there was a huge fire in the factory in Cliffe which could be seen across the Thames and John, fearing for his sisters’ safety, returned to Cliffe to help fight the fire.