John William Dovaston was born on 21st October 1893 in Atcham, Shropshire to Frances Henrietta Dovaston [née Maley] and her husband William Daniel Dovaston, the eldest of four children. His father’s profession on the 1911 census is shown as a solicitor.
John was educated at Wellington College in the years 1907-08 after which he attended Oswestry Grammar School for a short time.
He subsequently joined the 7th (Service) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) as a private soldier, No.19723, probably in the second half of 1915 before being sent over to France as part of a draft of re-enforcements in 1916. This is indicated by John’s lack of a 1914-15 Star, awarded to men who entered a theatre of war between 23rd November 1914 and 31st December 1915. The 7th Battalion had arrived in France on 28th September that year.
Another event closer to home that took place on 27th September 1915 attracted the attention of the press as the Birmingham Daily Post, amongst others, reported.