Nothing is known of William's early life, except that Army records published after the War show he had been born in Stockport. Information on the family history website, CheshireBMD, suggests that he married Ada Harrop at St Mary's Church, Stockport, in 1904. Shortly afterwards, their son, Douglas was born. William worked for Arthur Hayman Ltd, a firm of wholesale grocers who were, perhaps, based in Manchester where he enlisted into the army.
William originally joined the South Lancashire Regiment (service number 22562) but did not serve overseas with them. The 217th Company of the Machine Gun Corps was formed in March of 1917 and it is possible that William's service pre-dates this, suggesting he may have served with another Company before being transferred to the 217th.
The Third Battle of Ypres (often known as Passchendaele) opened on 31 July and William will have been in action over the following weeks. He was badly wounded at some point as confirmed by a newspaper report which stated he was injured "in no fewer than 50 places - his injuries including severe shell and gunshot wounds in the arm, back and right thigh." It cannot be known with certainty when he received these injuries but the reference to shell and gunshot wounds suggest this was during an attack, rather than whilst he was simply on duty in the trench. The most likely engagement would be the Battle of Langemarck on 16 -18 August.
William will have received treatment at a field hospital some miles behind the lines and was, in due course, evacuated to England where he was admitted to Naunton Park Hospital at Cheltenham where he died. His body was brought back to Stockport for burial on Wednesday, 19 September. The coffin was covered with the Union flag and was accompanied by a military escort under a Corporal Clarke. The service was conducted by the Rev H Sewell.
Douglas attended the funeral and was accompanied by William's father in law, William Harrop. Ada does not appear to have attended. Her address at the time was St Petersburg Road, Edgeley and, by the early 1920s, she had moved to 31 Menai Road, Adswood.