William was born on the 31 May 1884 in Margate to parents, John Edward Emptage, a carpenter aged 24, and mother, Harriet Eliza (Ashford) aged 23.
William lived his formative years at 29, Byron Road in Margate and, by the age of 16, he had become a plasterer.
Then, pretending to be nearly two years older, William joined the East Kent Militia in January 1901. Two months later, now said to be 18, he enlisted in Canterbury, into the 3rd Battalion East Kent “The Buffs” Regiment.
William was 5ft 6 inches in height and weighed 116lbs with brown eyes and brown hair.
Within a few weeks he went from Private to unpaid Lance Corporal, but due to some misconduct he was reverted back to Private on the 21st May 1901. It took him a further 4 years before he was made a Lance Corporal again.
William was sent to South Africa from May to October 1902. He was in England from October 1902 until June 1905 and then sent to South Africa again, until the 26th October 1908.
Having already completed his initial seven years, William chose to serve in Hong Kong, Singapore for another two years, where he was promoted to corporal.
In June 1911 he was transferred to the Army Reserve and discharged as a corporal on 8 March 1913, in Singapore.
William’s service records are missing for World War One but it appears he enlisted into the Royal Army Service Corps (also abbreviated to the Transport and Supply Corps). He rose to the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
William went to Bandar Abbas in Southern Iran with his Regiment and was awarded the General Service Medal with the clasp ‘Sth Persia’
Sergeant Major William Daubney Emptage of the 1st Battalion Malay Motor Transport, returned from the Persian Gulf to work for the Singapore Harbour Board Coal Department. Later, William worked as a prison warder at the Straits Prison.
On 19 November 1921, William married Annie Berry, daughter of Patrick Berry and Anna Rappa, at the St Josephs Portuguese Mission, in Singapore. By 1922, William was working for the Rubber Restriction Department and in 1923, he and Annie had a daughter, Rosalind Harriet.
William was only 44, and had been married for only seven years when he collapsed in the street. The Straits Times, dated October 26th 1928, wrote that William Daubney Emptage, died at the Singapore General Hospital and was subsequently buried at Bidadari Christian Cemetery.
It is not known what happened to Annie after the fall of Singapore in 1942 but she died in Singapore in 1943.
In 2007 the cemetery officials were exhuming unclaimed graves and his family had William’s body exhumed. His ashes were placed next to his wife’s.