John Nuthall was born on 12 November 1888 at Dibrugarh in Assam, India, the son of Arthur Frederic Nuthall, a tea planter, and his wife Constance Mary née Prichard. The Nuthalls had a strong Indian connection: both John Nuthall’s father and uncle, Lt.-Col. Henry John Nuthall, were born there, and his uncle was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1907 as veteran of the 1857 Rebellion.
John Nuthall was educated at Clifton College in Bristol, and then matriculated at Durham University at Epiphany 1909, joining University College. At the university his academic career was a smooth one, passing his finals in Litteris Antiquis and, in the first division, in Theology in Michaelmas 1911 and Epiphany 1912 respectively. He was awarded his B.A. in Classics in 1912 and was then granted his M.A. in 1914. His achievements in sport were noteworthy. He played hockey for the Durham Colleges division of the university. He also played for his college in its football and rugby teams, and represented the university in its tennis and cricket teams, captaining the latter. The Sphinx student magazine covers many of his fixtures, and records in November 1912 that Nuthall’s batting average was 21.5, and his strike rate was 5.62.
After leaving Durham he taught Classics at Bloxham School near Banbury, until 1914. He continued to excel at sport there, and also edited the school magazine, The Bloxhamist. He married Clara Evelyn Ormond in Pembroke on 30 July 1915. Evelyn was the third daughter of Richard Ormond, a Pembroke merchant and silk dealer. Nuthall then taught at a preparatory school near East Grinstead. Having been a cadet in the university’s O.T.C., on 5 September 1916 Nuthall was commissioned as a second lieutenant (on probation) in the Machine Gun Corps. He served with the 14th Company M.G.C. in Belgium from 23 April 1917, and was killed three months later on 13 July just outside Nieuport in Belgium. A fellow officer, Lieutenant Owen Bentley wrote of his death:
"In pursuit of his duty he had accompanied the ration party up to forward headquarters. After performing his duty in the town he was struck by shrapnel as he left the town. Though alive when we picked him up, he died a few minutes later, with apparently no suffering. … Though he had been with us but a short while, he had become liked by all."
Lt. Owen Bentley, quoted in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18
He was buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery. John Nuthall’s sacrifice is commemorated in Cheltenham at St Stephen’s Church. His name is also recorded on the war memorial at Bloxham School, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service.