Army records published after the War note that William was born in Chelsea. The 1901 Census suggests only one person with that name and place of birth who would have been of age to fight in the War. This was the eight year son of Warden Chandler and Emily Chandler. Mr Chandler was a butcher and the family, which also included two daughters, was then living at Cann Hall, Leytonstone in London. The area took its name from a stately home which had been demolished in the 19th century.
It is not known when William moved to the Stockport area and the only reference to him living in the town comes from the army records, which indicate he was a joiner by trade. They record his brother, Cyril, as next of kin and who was living at 47 Shaw Road. He must also have had a connection with Grantham in Lincolnshire as he enlisted into the army there, on 4 December 1915. His service papers show him to have been 5’ 9” tall with a 35” chest. After completing the formalities, William was sent home again and was not actually mobilised until 2 June 1916. After training, he was posted to 255th Siege Battery on 13 September. He was gradually promoted through 1917, reaching the rank of Sergeant in March 1918.
The Siege Batteries fired the heaviest guns in the British Army and were used to batter enemy defences and strongpoints. They were situated some considerable way behind the front line. Few records remain of their day-to-day activities so it is not possible to know the circumstances in which William died. However, in view of their relatively safe location, it will be reasonable to assume that the Battery gun positions were targeted by the German’s own heavy artillery. The records mentioned earlier confirm that he was not killed outright but died of wounds soon after being injured and before he could be evacuated to the extensive hospital facilities on the Channel coast.
Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery was not created until after the War when bodies originally buried in a number of smaller cemeteries were re-interred and taken into the care of the War Graves Commission. One of these burial areas was next to a dressing station outside a former asylum known as Dury Hospital and that was probably William’s original burial place.
In 1919, Cyril had moved to work on a farm near Congleton. Two sisters, Edith and Elizabeth, still lived at Shaw Road. The previous year, the Army had returned William’s personal effects to his home. They included letters and photographs, his diary, watch, cigarette case and a gold ring.