IT WAS NOT William Bottomley’s war experiences that inspired him to become a church minister.

But his time at the Front must surely have influenced his subsequent work with congregations in both the UK and Australia.

William’s career track may have been inevitable, because he was born the son of a Yorkshire Wesleyan local preacher and by the age of 17 was himself preaching sermons.

William, born in Burley Woodhead, started work on a Bingley newspaper at the age of 14 and two years later moved to a Keighley mill, rising from office boy to wool clerk before the First World War.

He also became an accredited Wesleyan Methodist minister, but switched to Unitarianism after his mind was opened to more liberal and political ideas.

During the war William joined the 17th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Company as a sergeant, and his service included six months at the “terrible” Ypres Salient in 1917, where he was wounded.

After the war William was sent to Somerset by his pre-war employers, helping the company expand across the South West, and he later became a popular Unitarian minister in Taunton.

In 1925 William – regarded as a “modern, energetic and enthusiastic” minister – took up a post in Melbourne with the Unitarian Church of Australia.