As might be suggested by their surname, the McNaughtons were Scottish. William had been born in Dalkeith near Edinburgh but, by the 1901 Census, the family had moved to 66 Church Street in the Gorton area of Manchester. James and Mary Mc Naughton had four children at home - Mary (then 27), George (25), Julia (19) and William (16).
At the time of the Census, William was recorded as working for an insurance office. It is probable that he changed jobs at some point as the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour lists a man called W McNaughton as being an employee of the Premier Waterproof and Rubber Co Ltd, Dantzig Street, Manchester. In the late summer of 1912, he married Louisa Hickman at St Elizabeth's Church, Reddish and they are believed to have set up home at 2 Mill Lane. There is no record that they had children.
In his spare time, William had been a long-standing member of the Territorial Force. His low service number confirms he was an original member of the Battalion when the Territorials were formed in 1909 from the previous Volunteer Battalions. He was quickly mobilised when War was declared in August 1914 and, within a month, he and his comrades were on their way to Egypt, where they spent the next seven months. An account of this time can be found here. During this time, the battalion commander, Colonel Worthington, kept a personal diary. It has recently been published by the Regimental Archives. Worthington notes that, on 8 October 1914, Corporal McNaughton was awarded a 1st class Musketry Certificate. It suggests he was in No. 4 Platoon, which would have been part of "A" Company.
At the beginning of May 1915, the Battalion left Egypt to go into action at Gallipoil. Click here for details of this period, including the fateful charge of the Manchesters on 4 June. The Colonel's personal diary notes that, on 9 May, William was hit (probably by shrapnel) in the forearm. William survived that day unscathed but was not so lucky in his next attack on 7 August.