William was born in West Hampstead on 22nd May 1889. Recorded on the 1891 census, he was the first child for parents William, a Police Constable and Cecily, all living at Gascony Avenue, West Hampstead, London. He attended school at Netherwood Street School, starting on 1st October 1896.
The 1901 census recorded William as the eldest child of 5 and the only son, the family then living at 61 Dynham Road, West Hampstead.
The next 10 years saw all the girls of the family leave home, except the youngest; by 1911 William was 21 and living with his mother and youngest sister Ethel at 40 Mazenod Avenue, Kilburn, NW London. He was single and worked as a clerk at a stationers. Just one month after the 1911 census was taken William signed up with the Royal Navy on 15th May 1911. Better pay or prospects were possible factors in him changing jobs, but in his short life he worked hard and rose through the ranks.
He was 5'7" tall with dark brown hair, grey eyes and had a small scar in the centre of his forehead. He began training as a Stoker 2nd Class at HMS PEMBROKE II until 9th November 1911 when he transferred to HMS COCHRANE, a Warrior class cruiser, for a year, departing on 25th January 1912.
William served next on HMS BACCHANTE, briefly, for 2 months, leaving on 14th March 1912 and returning to HMS PEMBROKE II on 15th March 1912. He was posted to HMS VANGUARD (still as a Stoker 2nd Class!) on 10th April 1912.
He rose to Stoker 1st Class after a month aboard the dreadnought, on 15th May 1912, rising to Acting Leading Stoker on 25th November 1915 and again to Leading Stoker on 25th May 1916 just before the Battle of Jutland. His final rise in rank was to Acting Stoker Petty Officer on 7th April 1917 before he was tragically killed in the explosion.
One of the longest serving members of the crew, had William survived he would have no doubt continued rising in position within the Navy.
He is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
#3 - 119/843
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1891, 1901 & 1911 England Census
London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1840-1911 London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; School Admission and Discharge Registers; Reference: LCC/EO/DIV02/NER/AD/002
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: 889
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)
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Service Registers and Registers of Deaths and Injuries. Registers of Reports of Deaths
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/7; Scan Number: 0556
WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; Pension Record Cards; Reference: 726/11PP
Photo courtesy of The Orcadian Commemoration booklet