Born on 20 May 1896 in Long Clawson, Leicestershire, son of William John and Maria Jane Dolby. In 1901 the family were living in Eynesbury, Huntingdonshire, where his father was a railway signalman. On the 1911 Census his parents had moved south to 120 Morley Avenue, Wood Green, London and later lived at 83 Bury Road, Wood Green. William emigrated to Canada on 3 July 1913, leaving from Southampton for Quebec on the Ausonia. He gave his occupation as 'butcher'. Attested at Welland, Ontario, Canada, on 13 November 1915. Was described as being 5ft 6½in with a dark complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair and gave his occupation as butcher. Had been active in the Militia of the 44th Regiment for the 13 months prior. He was living at Niagara Falls, Ontario.