William and his younger sister, Annie, were born in Liverpool. About 1895/6, they and their parents, William and Elizabeth, moved to the Manchester area. Between then and the 1901 Census, there were three more children - Maria, John and Celia. When the Census was taken, the family was living at 16 Rostron Street (after the war, William and Elizabeth had moved to 13 Beard Street, Heaton Norris).
In 1913, William married Violet Davies at St Elizabeth's Church, Reddish and they set up home nearby at 21 Prenton View.
On 17 August, William and his comrades took over front line trenches between Delville and High Wood, in the south of the Somme battlefield, ready for an attack the next day. This was to be a major assault involving seven British Divisions (approaching 200,000 troops). The objective for the King's was a German trench known as Wood Lane.
The weather on Friday 18 August was warm but overcast with temperatures rising to 70F. At 2.45pm, the whistles blew and the attack began. "B" and "D" Companies led the way, followed by "C" in support and "A" in reserve. The Battalion's War Diary gives few details but records "Attack held up by enemy in false line and machine gun fire." Those that could do so withdrew back to their own trenches and were relieved by the 20th Royal Fusiliers in the early evening. Many men were pinned down in No Man's Land and had to wait until darkness fell before they could get back to safety. Casualties were recorded as 48 killed, 148 wounded and 22 missing. The bodies of the dead lay in No Man's Land for possibly several weeks until the area was safe enough for them to be retrieved. By then identification was often impossible. Williams's body was never found and his name is inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing.