William was born in Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. His father served in the regular army and the family moved to Burnley in 1906.
William worked in a cotton mill and enjoyed being an assistant scoutmaster with the YMCA. He joined the Army in 1915. In May 1917 he was wounded by shrapnel and he died of his wounds 12 days later.
It is not clear whether William made the trench art shown in the picture, or whether he acquired it. Trench art is an item made, often from the detritus of war, by soldiers, prisoners or civilians.