William Francis George March was born in Westgate-on-Sea in January 1896, the eldest son of William and Lizzie March who owned the Kimberley Hotel. He was educated at Woodford House School and Weymouth College before matriculating at University College, Durham University in Michaelmas term of 1915, having secured an entrance scholarship worth £30. Despite winning the Long Reading Prize worth £200 in 1916, William only completed the first year of his B.A. degree, because in the autumn of that year he was granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.
His cadet training began in February of 1917, and by July he had ‘got his wings’ and was appointed temporary Second Lieutenant (confirmed 24 July 1917). He declined a post as an instructor in England on the grounds that he had no experience abroad, and instead went to France as a fighting scout pilot on 4 October 1917, attached to 23rd Squadron R.F.C. which was based at La Lovie.
At 13:05 on 24 October he began an offensive patrol in the Zillebeke-Ypres area, flying a Spad 7. Last seen in his formation heading east at 14:15, he was later reported missing in action. In April 1918, William’s status was changed to prisoner of war, but by June of that year it was reported that he had died of his wounds, aged 21, having been shot down over enemy lines. German records suggest that March was shot down by Lieutenant Hans Hoyer (1890-1917) of Jasta 36, who claimed a Spad south of Westroosebeke at 14:27 that afternoon.
Second Lieutenant William March is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery in Belgium. He is commemorated on the war memorial at Westgate-on-Sea, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service.