William was the son of William & Eliza Chalkley of Letchmore Green, Stevenage. He married Jane Aldridge in the parish church at Graveley, Hertfordshire, on the 24th September 1898 and the couple lived in Walkern Road, Stevenage, where they had their first child, Cecil. William listed his occupation at that time as a Domestic Coachman, but by 1911 he had become a publican, occupying premises in Silver Street, Stanstead, Essex. By this time the couple had an additional three children, Maud, Lesley John and Alfred Percy. The family later moved back to Stevenage where they lived at 42 Alleyns Road. William was called up for service in the Army on the 12th July 1916 at the age of 40, initially applying to join the Army Service Corps, but was posted to the 2nd/5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.