John Joseph Luck was from a large local family who had lived in the area for generations.
He was 22 and working as a coal lumper when he enlisted in July 1915, arriving at the Western Front in March 1916 and sent to the front line a month later.
Luck was involved in a night raid on German trenches in June. These raids were extremely dangerous, used to gather intelligence about the units facing them, and to capture prisoners.
The winter of 1916/17 was particularly harsh and John was afflicted with such a severe case of trench foot that he had to be evacuated to England. After returning to his unit he was promoted up through the ranks making Sergeant in May 1918.
A few days before his promotion he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery for his actions in capturing a machine gun position and using it to defend what was left of his unit. A few days later John was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (the second highest award for bravery) for another action, but it was not awarded.
In yet another act of bravery a few months later he was finally rewarded with the DCM:
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on 9 August 1918. In the advance on Rainecourt he was on the left flank of the battalion, which was unprotected and exposed to fire from a strong post about 80 yards off. He and five men crawled within bombing range and then rushed in, capturing one officer, twenty nine other ranks, one anti-tank gun, two heavy machine guns, and a Lewis gun. His prompt and fearless action was of the greatest value to the advance on that flank.'
John was photographed in a German Officer’s uniform, likely to have belonged to the officer he captured. He returned home in 1919, one of the few men from the area who was still physically fit.