(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
William was born in around 1885 in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. His father was called James and his mother was Mary. He had 4 older siblings: James, Mary Ann, George and Julia. The family had lost 2 other children by 1911; we don't know their names.
By 1891 the family had left Scotland for Gorton in Manchester, where they lived at 117 Church Lane. James senior worked as a clerk, as did James junior. George worked for an iron merchant. Ten years later they had moved to number 66 on the same street. James senior now worked as a railway clerk. William was also a clerk, for an insurance company.
As well as his civilian job William began his military career at around this time. He joined the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, although we don't know exactly when. This was a unit of the Volunteer Force based in Hulme, Manchester. Volunteers kept their civilian jobs and homes. They trained as soldiers during evenings and weekends, as well as an annual training camp lasting around 2 weeks.
The Volunteer Force had been formed to defend the UK against an invasion. The Boer War of 1899-1902 had shown that the Force was not particularly useful to the Army. Additionally, by 1907 it was in financial difficulties. On the 1st April 1908 the Volunteer Force became the Territorial Force. This was much more closely linked to the Regular Army. The 2nd Volunteer Battalion became the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. William continued to serve in it, with the service number 109.
At some point between 1901 and 1911 Mary died. In 1911 James lived with William, Mary Ann and Julia at 2 Mill Lane in Reddish, Stockport. He had retired from the railway company, and was receiving a pension from them. William was a clerk for a boiler insurance company.
Between July and September 1912 William married Louisa Hickman. She came to live with William at 2 Mill Lane. They had no children.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and along with the rest of the Territorial Force William was called into service. He was sent to Egypt with the 6th Battalion in early September and arrived there on the 25th. During October he was awarded a First Class Certificate in Musketry, or rifle shooting. At this time he was a member of IV Platoon in A Company. After garrisoning the country and carrying out more training they landed in Gallipoli on the 5th May 1915.
After just 4 days William was wounded. He was shot in the forearm. He held the rank of Corporal when this happened. It was a fairly minor wound that doesn't seem to have kept him away from the battalion for very long. He was given first aid by stretcher bearer Private 2441 George Oliver Harrison.
The battalion took part in an attack on the village of Krithia between the 4th and 6th June. This had been intended to be captured during late April when the first Allied troops landed, but the Turks had been able to hold them off. William and the 6th Battalion advanced further than most British units, but this meant when the Turks counter attacked they were cut off and forced to withdraw without capturing the village. They then had to endure Turkish attacks over the next 3 days.
By the end of the fighting around 150 members of the battalion were dead and hundreds more had been wounded. These casualties could be why William had been promoted to Sergeant by early August.
The 6th Battalion's next major operation began on the 7th August, again near Krithia. It was intended to divert Turkish troops away from the British landings at Suvla Bay. The British launched an attack, but were forced back by a Turkish counterattack. The Turks continued to attack for the next 2 days, inflicting many casualties on the British.
One of the men killed was William. He died on the 7th August, aged 30. After the war his grave could not be found, so he is one of the 20885 men commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. William's name can be found between Panel 158 and 170. As well as his British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal, William was also awarded the 1914-15 Star for his Army service.