William lived all his life in the Stockport area until he enlisted into the army in October 1915.
He was the eldest son of Arthur and Mary who, in 1901, were living at 53 Union Street. The census taken that year shows William has three younger sisters - Nelly (then 9), Ada (7) and Mary (11 months). Arthur worked in the local hatting trade and William followed him into the same industry, working as a hatter for the Chestergate Hat Manufacturing Company. In the late summer of 1913, he married Mary Elizabeth Hoyle and they are thought to have set up home at 4 Brewery Street, in the Portwood area of town.
When William joined up, he was originally assigned to the Cheshire Regiment (service number 27913). He may have served with the Regiment's 12th Battalion which, along with his later Machine Gun Company, was part of the Army's 22nd Division. The Division was sent to the Salonika theatre of the War in northern Greece, where it faced the Bulgarian Army. It is not known when William was transferred to the machine-gunners
On 13 September 1916, the Company deployed its 16 heavy Vickers guns in support of 65th Brigade's infantry battalions which attacked the enemy entrenched on a strategic point known to the British as "Machine Gun Hill", near the village of Machukovo in the Macedonian region. The attack was a success. The Company's War Diary notes that the gun crews spent the night of the 14/15th with their battalions before reforming as a single unit and being relieved to a reserve area on the 15th.
The Company's War Diary entry on the 14th , indicates that 3 men were known to have been killed in the operation and another 12 were unaccounted for. Whilst the War Graves Commission records William's date of death as the 15th, this seems unlikely as the Diary makes no mention of casualties on that day and, in fact, this was when the Company was relieved to the reserve areas. The fact that William has no known grave makes it more probable that he was killed during the fighting and it was not possible to recover his body. He will have been one of the 15 men posted as either dead or missing.