William was born in the Newton Heath area of north Manchester and was still living there, aged 4, at the time of the 1901 Census. The Census also records his father, James, then aged 34 and working as a labourer in a brewery and his mother, Martha, 33. An older woman, Mary Houlton, 73, was probably William's grandmother. The Census also records his two brothers, James, 6 and Fred, 2.
Sometime later, the family moved to the Stockport area and lived at 30 Christie Street.
William's service number indicates he was a pre-war member of the Territorial army and would have been mobilised in August 1914. An account of the Battalion's early months of service is here. After a few days rest, William and his mates went back into front line trenches on 23 February. These were at Wulverghem, just south of the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper).
On the 26th, William and one other man were killed, probably by shellfire. The next day, the Battalion was relieved and spent several months away from the front line. William has no known grave.