(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; Territorial Force Efficiency Medal; Imperial Service Medal
William was born in around 1876. We don't know anything about his family. He grew up in the town of Hawick, in the county of Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders. He worked as a Telegraphist for the General Post Office (GPO), and joined the 1st Roxburgh and Selkirk Rifles. This was a Volunteer unit that trained in the evenings and at weekends. We don't know when he first enlisted.
At some point William was transferred to Manchester by the GPO. He wanted to continue his Volunteer service, so he joined the 4th Volunteer Battalion of The Manchester Regiment in November 1898. When the Territorial Force was created in April 1908 this became the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. William was given the service number 145.
William's service in the Volunteers and the Territorial Force was recognised when he was awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal for twelve year's service. He held the rank of Corporal when he received this medal.
William got married in 1914, before the 7th Battalion went on its annual camp in June. His colleagues congratulated him in the Regimental Gazette and wished him luck! By this time he held the rank of Colour Sergeant, and had been nicknamed 'Sandy'.
The First World War broke out in August, and William went overseas with the 7th Battalion as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS). William arrived in Khartoum in Sudan in November 1914, and then took part in the invasion of Gallipoli in May 1915. He was promoted to Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) whilst he was there.
William was wounded shortly before Gallipoli was evacuated in January 1916 and sent to England to recover in hospital. After this he spent some time with the 7th Battalion's Reserve unit (the 3/7th) and then was posted to the 3/5th Battalion of The Cheshire Regiment. This meant he was given a new service number: 242868.
By the 31st July 1917 William had fallen sick, and he was discharged from the Army because he was 'physically unfit for war service'. He was awarded a Silver War Badge with the serial number 124639 to show that he had been honourably discharged.
William went back to his job at the GPO in Manchester, and joined the 7th Battalion's Old Comrade's Association (OCA) so that he could keep in touch with his friends and comrades.
William kept working as a Telegraphist and a Sorting Clerk at the Manchester Telegraph Office until November 1935 when he retired. On the 11th November he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal to mark 25 years in the Civil Service. Sadly William's mother had died just a few months before.
Throughout the 1920's and 1930s William was a regular attendee at reunion dinners and other 7th Battalion events. The 7th Battalion's old Drill Hall in Burlington Street, Manchester was closed on the 19th September 1931, and William played an important part in the ceremony when he laid a wreath at the War Memorial.
After he retired William took on more responsibilities with the OCA. In 1931 he was elected as an auditor for the Association. He attended numerous events as a representative of the 7th Battalion OCA. Many of these were the funerals of members, but there were happier responsibilities too. The Governor -General of Sudan; General Sir Francis Wingate had been very impressed by the 7th Battalion when they were stationed in Khartoum in 1914 and became their Honorary Colonel. He was very popular with the Battalion and William was one of the OCA members chosen to meet him and his wife when they made a very rare trip to Manchester in 1931. He also visited them in London on their 50th wedding anniversary in June 1938.
In 1936 William returned to Gallipoli to visit the graves and memorials there on behalf of the 7th Battalion. He had not forgotten his origins though, and also laid a wreath for the 4th Battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the new name for the 1st Roxburgh and Selkirk Rifles.
When the position of Honorary Secretary of the 7th Battalion Old Comrades Association became vacant in early 1939 William was elected to fill it. It was now his job to organise reunions and keep members informed of the activities of their friends and comrades. When he was elected William was living at 11 Reynell Road in Levenshulme, Manchester. He held this job all through the Second World War until he retired in late 1946. He was replaced by Fred Bamber. The OCA Treasurer during almost all of William's time as Honorary Secretary was Robert Campbell. Both men's medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.
William was a very popular and highly respected Honorary Secretary. His comrades remembered his rimless spectacles and often referred to him as a 'kinsman of the Bold Buccleuch'. Although they had the same surname we don't know whether he was actually related to this Scottish noble family.
William died on the 22nd April 1949, aged 73. His funeral was held 5 days later at St Agnes Parish Church in Longsight and at Manchester Crematorium. Many of his old comrades were present to say goodbye.
William left his medals to the Museum of The Manchester Regiment.