William was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His father John ran the long established Hoadley and Co business, the foremost gentlemen’s tailors and military outfitters in Trinidad. He attended Lord Williams’s Grammar School from 1908-1912.
William joined the Royal Navy in May 1916 as a Cadet, undergoing training at HMS Conway. Subsequently he served as a Temporary Midshipman on HMS Otway across 1916-17 and then joined HMS Bittern on 29 October 1917 – where he was assigned gunnery duty.
HMS Bittern was part of the Devonport Local Flotilla, undertaking convoy escorts and defensive patrol duty in and around the English Channel.
On 4 April 1918, six months after William had joined HMS Bittern, she was involved in a collision with SS Kenilworth off the Isle of Portland, England in thick fog. The Bittern was overwhelmed and she sank quickly with the loss of all hands. A Court of Inquiry found negligence on the part of the master of SS Kenilworth.
His instructions had been to hug the coast as closely as possible from Portland Bill to Start Point. Instead he headed straight across, showing no lights nor sounding for fog. At 0315 the Kenilworth saw a red light and a ship ‘small and low down’ at the moment of impact.
William is commemorated on the Port of Spain Cenotaph, the Plymouth Naval Memorial, and on the Roll of Honour at Lord Williams’s Grammar School.