Before the outbreak of World War One, William was employed as a labourer at the Coppice Colliery, known locally as the ‘Fair Lady’ pit.
William enlisted with the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment in May 1915. A few months later on 28th December 1915, William was killed in action, along with Heath Hayes comrade Private Isaac Brown.
William and Isaac are commemorated on the Heath Hayes War Memorial and the Loos 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.