All local records spell William's surname as above, yet army records have it as Deane.
The local newspaper, reporting his death, indicated that he had been a regular soldier for 6 years and had served in India. This is certainly borne out by his service number and the fact that the 1st Manchesters were in India when War was declared. However, the newspaper also suggested that he had been a quartermaster sergeant in the Army Service Corps and had rejoined his "old Regiment", presumably being reduced by several ranks in the process. Such a thing seems most unlikely, particularly at a time of War.
He had been born in Stockport and his mother lived at 295 Newbridge Lane. He is known to have two brothers - one also serving with the Manchesters and the other in the Navy. His mother had also raised two nephews who were killed during the War. Their names are not known.
The Battalion had been in Jullandar, India on Empire garrison duties and arrived in France at the end of September 1914. The early weeks were spent in hard fighting around the Belgian town of Ypres but they later moved into France and took up positions around Neuve Chapelle. William would have been involved in two major "set piece" battles - at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 and Aubers Ridge in May. They remained in this area for the forthcoming months and, on 1 September, took over a section of the front line for another tour of duty. It was to be a relatively quiet period and, unlike the 2 or 3 days tours of the later War years, William was still there ten days later.
The tour was characterised by exchanges of sniper fire on most days and the officer who maintained the Battalion's War Diary found it worthy to note the activity of aeroplanes. It was, of course, a new weapon of War. The entry for 10 September notes that, at 2.30am, the Company holding the right hand section of the line opened fire on an enemy working party heard in No Man's Land. "Shouts and screams were heard and work ceased."
"An enemy aeroplane was fired at about 6pm last evening and was hit either by machine guns or shell fire. The machine turned at once and appeared to be in serious difficulties. The left bottom plane slanted up towards the top and the machine listed nearly to the right. Apparently a stay was shot through. It nearly turned over and the observer was then seen to climb out onto a lower plane and counteract the list. He stood up and then finally lay down on the lower plane and the machine began to descend in a normal manner."
On this "fairly quiet day", William and three of his comrades had died - victims, no doubt, of the German snipers.