When the 1901 Census was taken 25 year old William was living at 171 Great Portwood Street, Stockport, with his parents, Joseph and Mary and his younger brother and sister, Charles and Margaret.
He was working as a spinner in a cotton mill and is believed to have continued to do this work until he enlisted into the army, probably in the middle of 1915. It's not known if he was amongst the original members of the 21st Battalion who went overseas in November 1915 or whether he joined them later as part of a draft of replacement troops. William took part in the Battle of the Somme in the summer and autumn of that year and, around September, he undertook a act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. The award was officially published in the London Gazette in its edition of 9 December 1916, but the details are unknown.
On 10 may 1917, the Manchesters moved to a camp near Mory, in preparation for an attack on German positions at Bullecourt. After making the necessary final arrangements, they moved into their assembly positions and were ready by 10pm on the 11th. "A" and "B" Companies were in support of the 1st South Staffords and would "mop up" any pockets of German resistance. "C" and "D" Companies would undertake the same job for the 2nd Queens.
Zero hour was 3.40am on the 12th and the Staffords and Queens attacked. The Queens secured their objectives with relative ease and the Manchesters were only called forward afterwards to assist with the process of consolidating the gains. The Staffords met with considerably more opposition from the Germans and "A" and "B" Companies were soon in action in support.
Records show that 34 men from the Battalion had been killed. However, all but two have their date of death recorded as the 11th. This seems most improbable as during that day, they were either making their way to the assembly positions or waiting to attack in the trenches. It seems likely that the officer preparing the casualty return at the time has made a simple date error in the report.