The 1911 census lists him as a ‘haulage boy in a coal mine’ and a boarder of William Smith of Newlands Lane, Heath Hayes.
William Cockayne enlisted with the 2nd North Midland Field R.E and was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. He died in the trenches on 28th October 1915 and was buried by Sergeant A.F Saxton of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
William is commemorated on the Heath Hayes War Memorial and the Menin Gate of the Ypres Memorial in France.
After Armistice the Silver jug (pictured here) was presented to St. John’s Church, Heath Hayes. The engraving on the back reads: ‘To the Glory of God & in memory of: W. Cockin [Cockayne], W.T. Archer, A.E. Morris, E. Yates, J.H. Shirley, C.H. Clayton & J. Tooth – who died on active service in France 1914-18. Also as a thanks offering, for the safe return of sons from the war and for the blessing of Victory and Peace. May 1919′.
Although it is nearly one hundred years old, it is still used in weekly services at St. John’s Church on Hednesford Road, Heath Hayes.