William was born in the Longsight area of Manchester but had lived in Stockport for many years. He was unmarried and lived with his parents at 14 Rose Court, Travis Brow. From leaving school, 20 years before, he had worked at the Heaton Mersey bleachworks of Melland & Coward Ltd, until he enlisted into the army in January 1915.
The newly formed 8th Battalion left Britain in July for the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign and, after the evacuation in January 1916, it was moved to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). British troops had landed in the area in 1914 to secure the oilfields around Basra. Following early success, the expeditionary force advanced northwards with the intent of capturing Baghdad. However, strong resistance was met from the Turkish army and the force was obliged to retreat to the city of Kut, where it was besieged, from early December 1915. Several attempts to relieve the garrison were made throughout the early part of 1916.
On 21 April, William and his comrades were part of almost the final attempt at rescue. The Battalion's War Diary records that, in the early hours of the 21st, troops of the North Staffordshire and Gloucestershire Regiments captured a section of the Turkish front line to the right of the Cheshires positions. At 5.30pm, the Cheshires were ordered forward from their support positions to dig-in near to the captured trench. They managed to do this in spite of machine gun fire which continued until they had managed to properly entrench. Casualties were comparatively light but William was one of three men to be killed. In the very fluid state of the campaign it is no surprise that the location of his grave, if ever he had one, was lost during the course of the War and he is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing.
The Garrison at Kut surrendered on 26 April.