William Hackett was a Nottingshire miner for 23 years before enlisting in the 254th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers in 1915. At 43 he had been rejected three times by the Yorks and Lancs Regt as being too old. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of the 22nd of June 1916 at Shaftesbury Avenue Mine at Givenchy-les-la-Basee in France. His citation read:
"For most conspicuous bravery when entombed with four others in a gallery owing to the explosion of an enemy mine. After working for 20 hours, a hole was made through fallen earth and broken timber, and the outside party was met. Sapper Hackett helped three of the men through the hole and could easily have followed, but refused to leave the fourth, who had been seriously injured, saying," I am a tunneller, I must look after the others first." Meantime, the hole was getting smaller, yet he still refused to leave his injured comrade. Finally, the gallery collapsed, and though the rescue party worked desperately for four days the attempt to reach the two men failed. Sapper Hackett well knowing the nature of sliding earth, the chances against him, deliberately gave his life for his comrade".
His body never being recovered, Hackett's name is recorded on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in Berks Cemetery Extension near Ploegsteert in Belgium. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, England.