William was born on the 27th February 1896 and was one of twelve children to William and Elizabeth Ann Henshall, and was born in Cotton’s Bridge around 1897. William’s father was born in Middlewich around 1860 and Elizabeth was born in Preston Brook around 1863. His father was working as a labourer and warehouse porter.
William was baptised on the 9th April 1896 at the Primitive Methodist chapel in Aston Lane by Thomas Bramall.
In 1901 William’s older brother and sisters still at home in Cotton’s Bridge were Gertrude (born in Norton around 1888), Jane (born around1891 also in Norton) and Martha (born in Cotton’s Bridge around 1893), Amos (born around 1895 in Cotton’s Bridge and on the 9th November 1901 another sister, Evelyn, was born, to be followed in 1905 by Hilda. Five other children had sadly died in infancy.
On the 18th April 1906 William was transferred to Daresbury Primary School from Preston Brook School and in 1911 he was working as an errand boy.
On the 23rd August 1909 his sister Evelyn joined him at Daresbury School from Preston Brook School, and was followed by Hilda on the 21st August 1911.
William was a private in the Monmouthshire Regiment and his regimental number 4028 means that he possibly enlisted before the outbreak of hostilities.
Possibly between February and December 1915 William transferred to the South Wales Borders, 5th Battalion (regimental number 39880).
Early in 1915 William’s brother, Amos, also enlisted and was a private in the Black Watch Regiment.
On the 16th July 1915 the battalion landed in France at Le Havre and by September was in action at Pietre as a diversionary attack during the battle of Loos.
As a pioneer battalion the troops combined the duties of trench digging and mining with bombing and hard fighting.
The winter of 1915 was spent near Loos repairing roads, constructing tramways, improving the trenches and in mining in close proximity to the enemy.
In March 1916 the battalion moved to Ypres and during the year the battalion took part in the battle of Albert, the attack on High Wood, the battles of Pozieres Ridge, Ancre Heights and Ancre.
The battle of Pozieres Ridge was part of the Somme Offensive and started on the 23rd July. The bulk of the fighting was done by Australian troops which the battalion supported and the village of Pozieres was taken on the first day. It took another two weeks for the Ridge to be captured.
In April and May 1917 the battalion took part in various phases of the battle of Arras. One of these phases was the third battle of Scarpe and the battalion suffered heavy casualties in the attack of the 3rd May. The attack was called off on the following day but William was killed in action on the 6th May. He was buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, near Ieper in Belgium.
William was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.