William Adams was born in Skelmersdale, near Liverpool, in around 1868. He was the son of George and Harriet Adams, although as his name was quite common in the area at the time, it is not possible to narrow down details of his early life any further.
At some point after leaving school, William joined the army, using the surname of Catlow. The 1891 census records him as a soldier in the Private Infantry, based at the Habergham Eaves Barracks near Burnley, Lancashire.
On leaving the army, William found work as a labourer and, by the 1890s, he had moved to Kent. He met and married a woman called Kate in 1895, and they went on to have a son, Archibald, the same year. The 1911 census records the family living in Cheriton, near Folkestone, William doing labouring work, and Kate employed as a laundress.
With the outcome of the First World War, William stepped forward to play his part again. By this point, he was 46 years old and, while he was assigned to the 4th Battalion of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), was given more of a territorial role.
Private Catlow was serving at the site shared by the Cotton Powder Company and Explosives Loading Company to the north of Faversham in the spring of 1916. On the afternoon of 2nd April 1916, a fire caused a series of massive explosions at the factories, and William was one of around 110 people to be killed. He was 48 years of age.
William Adams, known militarily as Private William Catlow, was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Faversham Explosion, in the town’s Borough Cemetery.