William was another of the area's young sportsmen who joined the Manchester Regiment in the days immediately following the declaration of War in August 1914. He was the only son of James and Clara. He was born in Stockport but the family moved to Marple shortly afterwards, living at Turf Lea. His younger sister, Marion, was born there in about 1898. By 1914, the family had returned to Stockport and was living at "Brentwood", Beech Road, Cale Green.
William played in the "B" team for Stockport Lacrosse Club and was a member of the Cricket Club.(he is commemorated on the Club's Memorial at it's ground). By 10 September 1914, he was aboard a ship bound for Egypt where he and his comrades would spend the next seven months. An account of their early months of service can be found here.
As will have been seen, from the link, William had survived two major attacks in which he will have lost many friends. In his last letter home, William wrote:
"We have been worked terribly when we are not in the firing line, we are digging at some fatigues and I have not had a minute to myself hardly and being now an NCO (note: his promotion to Lance Corporal was never formalised) I have even less time on my hands than formerly. Your letter of 16th August, I received Thursday last, the anniversary of my leaving Southampton. Twelve long months but on looking back I cannot think but what they have passed away very quickly. Months full of new experiences, not to say perils, that at one time I should never have dreamt would befall to me. In these experiences there has been much to learn and I am almost certain I have benefited by them. The chief thing I have learnt is to appreciate home. I have never regretted joining when I did. To be known as one of the first is an honour. It would be galling to be one of the "White Feather Brigade". I have no particular news of myself: am in good form though, a bit worn out which is, of course, only natural, my rest long since worn off. But I am hopeful to arrive home some day, looking fitter than I left. I've dropped weight and got as hard as iron and as brown as a penny piece."
Two weeks later, William died aboard the Hospital Ship "Gascon" having been badly wounded at Gallipoli and was buried at sea. The local newspaper reported that these wounds were received on either the 23rd or 25th and had been sustained during the mining of a trench. However, an examination of the Battalion's War Diary shows that these were both quiet days and the men were in bivouacs away from the front line.
Certainly during mid-September both British and Turkish troops were mining and counter-mining near each other's front lines. At about 4pm on the 18th, the Battalion returned to the front line and, an hour later, the Turks exploded a mine. The War Diary notes that this created a crater in No Man's Land and efforts were made to dig a trench out to it so it could be used as an advanced post to throw grenades at the Turkish front line.
The next day, the Diary notes "Countermined Turk mine and blew in his gallery." On the 20th, it was the turn of the Turkish army to explode a mine under the British trench. This blew in another British mine shaft burying the digging party. Another crater was formed and this was occupied by Captain Cawley and four men. "This party was maintained in the crater during the night and at a distance of not more than 10 yards from the Turk trench and bombing kept up." Unsurprisingly, the Turkish troops were easily able to retaliate with their own grenades until heavy trench mortar fire was brought to bear on them. It is almost certain that it was sometime during the 20th when William received his mortal wounds. He will have been treated at a field hospital on the beachhead and then put aboard the hospital ship. Most men were initially conveyed to military hospitals in Malta or Egypt but William's death, possibly 10 days after being wounded, suggests he was en route to Britain and that his condition deemed sufficiently stabilised for the trip.
Captain Cawley was killed the following night when he returned to the crater and was shot through the head.