William was born on 26th March 1899 at 39 Long Street, Kingsland Road, Hackney, London to William and Rosetta (nee Tame) and baptised just a few weeks later on 16th April.
On the 1901 census William was aged 2, the only child and the family continued to live at Long Street but within 10 years the family had expanded - they were all recorded living at 25 Queens Road, Dalston, Shoreditch. William was the eldest of seven children, the youngest, Bertram, just 6 weeks old.
On the outbreak of war William Snr joined the 5 Bttn of the Northampton Regiment on 26th August 1914. Unfortunately he was discharged on 6th October 1914 due to having flat feet and not being able to march - it was considered that he would not make an effective soldier. At that time William Jnr was 14 years old - he left his job as a munitions worker before joining the Navy on 26th February 1917 as an Ordinary Seaman, stating his birthday as 10th February.
He stood 5'6" tall, with light brown hair and blue eyes and was reported to have a wonderful singing voice.
William trained at HMS PEMBROKE l before being posted straight to HMS VANGUARD on 22nd April 1917. He was killed aged 19,spending just 3 months aboard.
William's mother gave birth the same year naming her new son Joseph Vanguard Belcher.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 London Metropolitan Archives, Hackney St Michael and All Angels, Register of Baptism, p79/MAA, Item 004
1901 & 1911 England Census
British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 WO364; Piece: 206
UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 782
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/7; Scan Number: 0285
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 007 (1914 - 1919)
WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 019/0067/BEH-BEL