William enlisted from Watford in September 1914, posted to the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment with the service number 14587.
He arrived in France in April 1915 and was there until wounded and returned to England. After recovering, he was one of 500 men to be shipped to the 5th Battalion, in Egypt joining them in February 1916. William was awarded his Military Medal during the second raid against Umbrella Hill on 27th July 1917 and is mentioned in the London Gazette issue 30340 on 18 October 1917; "201122 Pte W A Beesley (Watford)"
He is also mentioned in the Battalion War Diary:
"2 Aug 1917 Routine work in camp. Working parties from 0700-1100 to 1/5 Suffolk R FLINT REDOUBT & A Batt 270th Bde RFA. At 1645 Military Medals were distributed by G.O.C. 54th Division to Pte BEESLEY, W.A., Pte REEVES, H., Pte PRATT, W. Award of Military Medal notified in the case of Sergt.CLIFFORD, E.G, Cpl CHARGER, Pte.WORROW, D.A.J. all of whom were absent) for gallantry in connexion with 2nd raid on UMBRELLA HILL "
Unfortunately, William did not survive the war and was killed in action on during a bayonet charge led by Captain Yarde, MC and Bar against Turkish positions on Yafa Hill on 22 December 1917. The Battalion War Diary 22 Dec 1917 records:
"Hackney Mound and Yafa Hill 0010 B Coy assaulted YAFA HILL without Artillery Support, the bayonet being the only weapon used. The enemy put up a stiff fight but was soon overcome and the whole garrison bolted. Our men having received orders not to advance beyond a certain point did not pursue. Consolidation of the Post was immediately begun. C Coy acted as carrying party and brought up R.E. material, S.A.A. &c they remained as Working Party withdrawing at dawn 0030 YAFA SUBSECTION till then occupied by 1/10th London Regt was taken over by D & A Coy. By dawn the consolidation of YAFA HILL was sufficiently advanced to render it tenable during day. No shelling was taking place but heavy enemy M.G. fire was experienced. Our casualties were 4 O'Ranks Killed, 1 Officer & 9 O'Ranks wounded."
He was entitled to the Victory, British War and 1914-15 Star medals, his qualifying date being 27 April 1915.