2nd Lieutenant, 13th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.
Died of illness, Monday 6th September 1915, age 21.
Buried in Hartshill Cemetery, Stoke on Trent, UK, grave reference 14931.
Student of chemistry.
William was born in 1894 in Stoke-on-Trent to William Halliday Bigham, a draper, and Harriet Elizabeth Bigham and was the eldest of six children. As a boy he attended Hanley Secondary School. Having successfully passed the Oxford Senior Local Examination he remained at the school as an Assistant Master in the chemistry laboratory. He was also a Sunday School teacher at the local Presbyterian Church. Having worked at Hanley Secondary School for two years, William decided to further his education and applied to study Chemistry at Manchester University. Having been offered a place, he applied for, and won, a Hulme Hall scholarship, entering the Hall in October 1913. William was passionate about research work and it was his ambition to return to this once he had completed his degree.
During his time in Manchester he became a member of the University OTC. He was at the annual OTC summer camp at the outbreak of the war. William applied for a commission into the Army on the day of his return from camp in August 1914 and whilst waiting for his application to be processed he returned to Hulme Hall to start the second year of his course. He received news in December that he had been awarded a commission as a Second Lieutenant with the 13th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. William began training shortly afterwards, joining the Battalion where they were based in Tring. By the time he arrived, the Battalion had moved from living under canvas in Halton Park, near Tring, into local billets across the county, returning back to canvas in May 1915. It wasn’t until June that the Battalion first received rifles and they began training with them in earnest. It was during this time that William developed an internal complaint. He visited the Battalion medical officer who referred him to a specialist. Although the issue was not considered serious, it was recommended that an operation be carried out to investigate further. As the 13th Battalion prepared to mobilise to join the fighting on the Western Front in mid-September, William was admitted to University College Hospital. The operation was a success, however the next day there were serious complications from which he did not recover.
Enthusiastic and energetic in everything he took up, he will be greatly missed. An exceedingly promising scholastic career has been cut short by his death.
William’s grave, is inscribed “The outward eye, the quiet will and the striding heart from hill to hill” which are words from a poem called “The joys of the road” by Bliss Carmen. He left effects worth £56 14s. 6d. to his father.