William was born on 19th September 1894 in the Grangetown area of Cardiff, Wales.
On the 1901 census William, aged seven and the first child of Samuel and Mabel, lived at 19 Knole Street, Canton, Cardiff, along with two younger siblings and a boarder. Samuel supported his family working as a labourer in a shipyard.
Ten years later the family had moved to 34 Oakley Street in Cardiff - his parents had had four more children and William worked as a dock labourer at Mountstuart Dry Dock.
He married Clara Fowler on 10th August 1914, both of them aged twenty one, at the Cardiff Register Office - possibly with a desire to get married quickly as war had just been announced.
On 1st June 1915 William joined the RNVR, listing his residence, with Clara, as 7 Earl Street, Grangetown and noted as being 5’6” tall with brown hair and blue eyes, with no distinguishing marks or scars and of Protestant religion.
Until 6th September 1915 he was drafted for shore based duty and training before being posted to HMS VANGUARD on 7th September 1915 as an Able Seaman. He was briefly discharged from service on 30th May 1916 and spent three days in the ship’s cells (reason unknown). Punishment overruled the requirement of all hands as William’s incarceration was during the Battle of Jutland - he had a very different perspective during the conflict, hearing gun fire but with no knowledge of what was happening. He re-joined the crew on 3rd June 1916 until the ship exploded.
His younger brother Samuel would also be killed just eight months later when his ship, the SS BEACON was torpedoed and sunk.
He is remembered on the Grangetown War Memorial, Cardiff - Clara received his pension as well as his Star, Victory and British war medals.
#212 - 485/843
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 FreeBMD
1901 & 1911 Wales Census
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Service Records Index, 1903-1922 ADM 337/86/89
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: 009 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/9; Scan Number: 0165
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 635/05apw
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 127
Memorial images courtesy of Laura John