Updated: Jul 25, 2021
William was born on 25th September 1887 in Montrose, Scotland to parents James and Isabella and was noted on the 1901 Scotland census aged 13, the fifth of seven children living at 3 Fergus Square, St Vigeans, Arbroath.
He left his job as an Apprentice Outfitter before joining the Navy on 25th September 1905 for 12 years. He was recorded as 5'10" tall with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a scar under his right ear.
As a Boy 2nd Class, he trained on HMS Caledonia from 26th June 1903 until 12th April 1904, rising to Boy 1st Class on 4th February 1904. His remaining service follows:
HMS BOSCAWEN II - 13/04/1904 - 08/11/1904
HMS BOSCAWEN III - 09/11/1904 - 11/01/1905
HMS GIBRALTAR - 12/01/1905 - 28/04/1905
HMS PEMBROKE I - 29/04/1904 - 04/05/1905
HMS KING ALFRED - 05/05/1905 - 19/05/1905
HMS PEMBROKE I - 20/05/1905 - 14/08/1905
HMS DOMINION - 15/08/1905 - 31/03/1907, rising to Ordinary Seaman on 25/09/1905 and Able Seaman on 19/12/1906
HMS HANNIBAL - 01/04/1907 - 09/07/1907
HMS DOMINION - 10/07/1907 - 01/06/1908
HMS PEMBROKE I - 02/06/1908 - 13/05/1909
HMS CAESAR - 14/05/1909 - 06/06/1910
HMS DOMINION - 07/06/1910 - 23/05/1911
HMS PEMBROKE I - 24/05/1911 - 22/01/1912
HMS BLENHEIM - 23/01/1912 - 30/09/1913
HMS EGMONT - 01/10/1913 - 03/11/1913, winning the Victoria Medal for big gun firing.
HMS PEMBROKE I - 04/11/1913 - 30/03/1914
HMS VANGUARD - 31/03/1914 - 09/07/1917
William was posted to HMS Vanguard on 31st March 1914 and was on board during the Battle of Jutland, of which he was commended in Dispatches for "good services in action in the North Sea 31st May - 1st June 1916"....and of which, followed him being posthumously awarded the Russian Medal of St George.
He is remembered on the Arbroath War Memorial in Scotland, as well as the Chatham Naval Memorial.
(#157 - 641/841)
1901 Scotland Census
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: 400
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 010 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/10; Scan Number: 0070
WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; Naval Pensions Ledger; Reference: 542931
Photo courtesy of Fiona Finlayson
Memorial images courtesy of Sarah Steed