William was born in Leigh, Lancashire. By the time of the 1901 Census, he was 18 and living in Godley, Hyde where he worked as a driller in an engineering works. There are no other people called Hayes living in Godley so he must have moved away from home and was, presumably, in lodgings. In the spring of the same year, he married Mary Elizabeth Lyne at St Thomas' Church.
Over the years, he and Mary would have 4 children. William enlisted into the army at Stalybridge. His service number indicates this was in November or December 1914.
In late October 1917, the 13th Cheshires were in trenches at Wulverghem, several miles south of the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper), near the border with France. On the 28th and 29th, they came under bombardment from German trench mortars (minenwerfer). Four men were wounded on the 28th and a fifth the next day. William was, almost certainly, one of those men.
He would have received attention from the Battalion's medical officer before being evacuated to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations operating at Bailleul, some 12 kilometres behind the front line. Here, military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success.
William's connection with the Stockport area is that, at some point, his parents had moved to the area and lived at 15 Oliver Street. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Hyde Town Hall.