William’s parents, Reuban and Sarah Ann (nee English) had married in the early 1880s at St Mary’s Heaton Reddish Church. Their first child, William, was born on 5 June 1887. When the national census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 19 Salisbury Street, Reddish and William now had younger siblings – Frank (then 14), Fred (12), Martha (9) and George (4). He had left school and was working as a piecer in a cotton mill.
William’s service number indicates that, at some point, he joined the navy as a professional sailor. In 1903, a new form of enlistment was introduced whereby men could undertake a “short service” of 5 or 7 years, with the balance to the normal 12 years being undertaken on the reserve. These seamen were numbered upwards, starting with SS1 in 1903, so it is probable that he joined fairly soon after that.
In 1903, Reuban Taylor died and, three years later, his widow married a William Bagshaw and, at the time of the War, was living at 18 Old Road, Heaton Norris.
HMS Caesar was a battleship, weighing nearly 15,000 tons and armed with four 12 inch guns, sixteen 12 pounder guns and further smaller calibre weapons. She had been built in 1905 and, for most of the War, carried out patrols of the North Atlantic, based at Bermuda. In 1918, she was transferred to operations in the Mediterranean. Before commencing operations, she went to Malta in September for refitting and was still in port when William died. His cause of death is not known but many millions worldwide died during the influenza pandemic that autumn.