William was born in Gillingham, Kent on 22nd August 1897 to parents George and Eliza.
At the time of the 1901 census, he was recorded aged 3 living at 32 Church Road, Gillingham, with his parents, Grandmother and 4 other siblings.
When he was 13, during the 1911 census, William was listed as a School Boy at the Royal Hospital School, Romney Road, Greenwich. He was given a place as his father worked in the Royal Navy and William’s mother had died in 1907. George remarried in 1909 to Ethel Maude Mercer.
He began his Boy 2nd Class training at HMS GANGES on 14th March 1913, also sub-rated as a Bugler two months later. He left Ganges on 25th September 1913, joining HMS GRAFTON as a Boy 1st Class, the following day. He left the ship on 21st January 1914 and stayed at HMS PEMBROKE I until his new posting on 30th March 1914.
William joined HMS VANGUARD as a Boy 1st Class on 31st March 1914, staying assigned for over 3 years. During this time he rose to Ordinary Seaman on 25th March 1915, followed by Able Seaman on 4th November 1915 and served during the Battle of Jutland.
He was 5'2" tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and had a scar over his right eyebrow. His Star, Victory and British war medals were issued to his brother, his pension was awarded to his Stepmother.
#236 - 356/843
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1901 & 1911 England 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: 693
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: 008 (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
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 104
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0735
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 720/11PP
Photo courtesy of Michael Banks