William was born in Wolverhampton in 1887, the son of Eutychus and Sarah Jane Whittle. In 1901 they were living at 5 Wadhams Hill, Wolverhampton, and by 1911, he was living with his parents and sisters Edith and Florence at 149 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton. William was a clerk for a hardware merchant.
On 5 September 1914, William’s name was listed in the Midland Counties Express as one of the many men who had indicated they were willing to join the Special Service Companies. His address was given as 141 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton. He enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 2834), and first served in France from 5 March 1915. However, he was killed in action on 9 April 1915 at Wulverghem. The Express & Star of 24 April 1915 gave details of how he died. He was repairing wires in front of a trench, when he was shot, and the article states that “his comrades pluckily stuck to him and brought him in, in spite of the fact that the Germans opened a heavy fire.” A few days prior to his death, according to the article, he had been made a Lance Corporal, although both his medal index card and his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission state his rank as Private. The article continues in saying that he was very popular amongst his platoon, and “in spite of the hardships, he thoroughly enjoyed the life out there.” He is buried at Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, and his name is listed on a memorial in the Lady Chapel of St Peter’s Church, as well as on the church’s roll of honour.