William Harwood was born in 1873 in Welwyn, the son of Joseph and Mary Ann Harwood.
The family lived in Fore Street, Welwyn in 1881, where his father was an agricultural labourer.
He enlisted in February 1891 and on the 1891 Census he is listed as a Private with the Bedfordshire Regiment in barracks at Kempston. He served 7 years, saw active service in India and was awarded the Indian Medal. He was declared medically unit and discharged with the rank of Corporal and was in receipt of a pension.
He married Elizabeth Jane Jeeves on 20 August 1899 at Ayot St Peter, Herts and on the 1901 Census they were living in Welwyn with their 1 year old daughter Rosa. (They later had a further five daughters). By 1911 they had moved to 50 Avondale Road, South Tottenham, Middx and William was working as a building labourer. They were living at 4 Playford Road, Holloway at the time of his enlistment.