William Hayes was born in Plymouth, Devon on 11 December 1892, the son of Samuel Robert and Bessie Isabel Ham Hayes (née Chapman). He joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Artificer on 7 August 1908. He completed his apprenticeship and then served in HMS ARGYLL, HMS GREENWICH and the battleship HMS EMPEROR OF INDIA and a number of shore establishments until 31 March 1925, by which time he had been advanced to Engine Room Artificer First Class. William Hayes was promoted to Warrant Engineer on 1 April 1925.
He was appointed to HMS DOLPHIN for the Submarine Course on 3 June 1925 and then joined HMS L18 on 8 August 1925. He then joined HMS CONQUEST ‘for Submarines and as Spare Engineer’ on 24 December 1925. This was followed by HMS L23 as the Engineer on 29 November 1926 until May 1928. On 8 August 1928, William Hayes was appointed to HMS OTUS as the Engineer – standing by whilst completing at Vickers in Barrow and ‘for Duty with the Superintendent Contract Built Ships’. An appointment to HMS OTUS as the Engineer followed in March 1929. On 5 June 1929 HMS OTUS was sent to the Far East and William Hayes returned home from Hong Kong on 20 August 1931.
An appointment to HMS M2 as the Engineer followed on 12 January 1932. Just over two weeks later M2 was lost with all hands in an accident in the Channel. It is believed that the submarine had surfaced to fly off its Parnell Peto seaplane when it was flooded through the open hangar door and access hatch.
William Hayes was the husband of Edith Hayes.