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William was born in Dudley on 19 November 1892, the son of Francis B. and Emma Northall. In 1901 they were living at 8 Brooke Street, Dudley, but by 1911 he was living with his grandmother, Naomi Hemmings, mother, aunt Mary Jane Lowe and siblings Emma Naomi and Charles Stewart at “Adelaide Villa”, 273 Dudley Road, Wolverhampton. William was working as a clerk in the Wolverhampton Tramways Office.

William enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 3463 and later 240830) on 20 October 1914. He served in France from 5 March 1915  until 13 October 1915, when he received gun shot wounds in his right foot and his left leg. He was discharged on 28 November 1919 due to sickness, and was issued with a Silver War Badge (number B237366) on 14 January 1920. He died in 1976 in Wolverhampton at the age of 84.