William was born in Harston, the eldest son of William & Sarah who lived in 3 Hill View Cottages. He was a farm labourer.
He joined the Suffolk Regiment in November 1914 and had served in France for 16 months when he was killed at Roeux, east of Arras on 28 April 1917. The Suffolks advanced to attack only to find the artillery barrage had entirely missed enemy trenches. As the men got up and advanced, a mass of German machine guns opened up through the still setting smoke. Men dropped like they had done in the face of the withering fire on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 9 months earlier. The Suffolks lost 103 men in this attack, The Divisional commander, General Nicholson said “It began badly, continued badly, and ended worse.”
His death was reported in the Cambridge Independent Press on 18 May 1917 as fifth Harston man to die but he was actually the tenth. A memorial service was held on 3 June at which he was described as a former Sunday School scholar, a member of the Brotherhood and a lad of irreproachable character.
He is one of 35,000 men commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. MR20.