William was the second eldest child of William and Laura Emma Braidford who lived at Friarside House, Rowlands Gill, County Durham. He had three brothers, Frank Garbett, born around 1892, John, born around 1901, and Stanley, born around 1906, and three sisters, Alice, born around 1900, Emily, born around 1904, and Ena Laura, born around 1908.
From 1904 to 1910, he was educated at St. Bees School (the second of his six siblings to attend), and was a prominent member of the football team for 3 seasons. He went on to play for Durham University and the County team.
William was part way through his study of Mining Engineering at Armstrong College when war broke out, at which point he chose to enlist. He served with the Durham Light Infantry, 19th Battalion and attained the rank of Temporary Lieutenant.
William was killed in action on 24th July 1916 aged 23, while fighting in Longueval, France at the beginning of the battle of the Somme. He died while superintending his company as they were digging themselves in; he was buried by a German shell, killing him instantly.