William was born on 25th January 1894 to parents John and Elizabeth (Rogers), in Penclawdd, Glamorgan, Wales, the eldest of seven children. John and Elizabeth’s youngest child Evan died within 6 months of his birth in 1909.
The family lived in the parish of Cockett in Glamorgan during the 1901 census, William’s age being rather inflated to 11 years old and his father working as a coal miners hewer. By the 1911 census, William’s age was noted as correct; he was 17 and working as a masons labourer; his father and younger brother working in the mining industry.
He joined the RNVR division in Wales on 2nd June 1915 (HMS Victory VI), noted as 5’10” tall, with brown hair and grey eyes, leaving as an Able Seaman on 6th September 1915 to join HMS Vanguard. He remained with the ship during the Battle of Jutland and as well as being part of the crew he was also a member of the dramatic company which entertained the ship to keep up morale.
He was said to have a splendid voice and took a leading part in the musical “Double Salvoes” playing the part of Ralph Armstrong.
Upon his death he was awarded the Star, Victory and British medals.
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1901 & 1911 Wales Census
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War. ADM 242/008; (1914 - 1919)
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 ADM 171/ 127
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0978
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Service Records Index, 1903-1922