William originated from Pendleton, Salford. By the late 1890s, he was probably working in the Stockport area. It is known that he married Martha Anna Pitt, between October and December 1897 She was aged about 19. A couple of years later, at the time of the 1901 Census, the couple were living in Huddersfield, where William earned his living as a doubler in a cotton mill.
By 1914, the couple were back in Stockport and living at 149 Hesketh Street, Heaton Norris. By now they had 6 children. Martha's mother had remarried and was now Mrs Fitton. She lived just down the road at No. 38.
William was still working as a doubler, now at Harp Doubling Co., Castleton. He enlisted into the army in August 1914 and went overseas in January 1915 with the 2nd Battalion. This Battalion, part of the regular army, had arrived home from India, just before Christmas. William did not enlist as a regular but was part of a draft of new recruits urgently needed to bring the Battalion up to strength.
William was home on leave for four days from 27 August and his neighbours decorated Hesketh Street and the surrounding area to welcome him. A few weeks later, he was killed at the Battle of Loos.
After the battle, a photo of a woman and children was found on the battlefield. The soldier who found it sent it to the "News of the World". The newspaper published the photograph in its edition of 24 October. Martha saw it and recognised herself. William must have been carrying it when he was killed. This would be her final memento of her husband. Williams's body was never found and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Loos.