William James Slack was born in Tunstall between July and September 1880 to John and Hannah Slack. John was born in Tunstall and Hannah in Burslem. It appears that William was the Slack’s only son.
According to the 1881 Census, the family is living at 57 Wall Street, Tunstall, with John’s mother and brother.
On 8th September 1898, at the age of 18, William joins the army as Private William James Slack, number 5538 of the Northumberland Fusiliers. He served in South Africa, from February 1901 until May 1906 and so he would have taken part in the Boer War. He seems to have had an uneventful time in the army, being awarded good conduct badges, which were taken off him for a while in 1904 as he fell asleep while on duty! He got his badges back the following year.
He joined the army reserve in 1906 and married Mary Ann Cooper at Burslem on 23rd March 1907.
The couple had three sons Joseph, Richard & William born in 1908, 1911 & 1917 respectively and a daughter Alice born in 1915 and two children who died young. William was discharged from the army in September 1910. The family lived at 11 Templar Terrace, according to the 1911 Census and William was employed as a pottery worker.
William was our original Assistant Scoutmaster according to the Boy Scouts Organisation Register for the Potteries and District Boy Scouts Association. He took over as Scoutmaster in 1909 when William Hocket resigned.
We think William was Scoutmaster until sometime in 1912.
William rejoined the army on 8th January 1917 as Private 203312 William James Slack in the Somerset Light Infantry and was sent to India. In March 1918 he was hit by an officer on a motorcycle and badly broke his leg. He was discharged from the army as unfit for further service and came home in February 1919.
After that we lose track of William until his death in the first three months of 1960 aged 79.