On Tuesday 6 January 1942 William was in one of a convoy of fire appliances travelling to Ventnor with several other Sandown NFS members including his son Samuel George Batchelor to participate in a training exercise. William was sat at the front of the engine alongside the driver Stanley Watson of Brading. What occurred was widely reported in the local Press but is perhaps most accurately stated in the County Press report of the inquest held at the Royal National Hospital before Deputy Coroner R.E.A. Webster.
Samuel George Batchelor was present and questioned regarding his fathers general health, to which he replied that there had been no issues.
Stanley Watson, driver of the Bedford van towing an Apex trailer-pump. He stated that having arrived at the Ventnor Town Hall rendezvous as arranged, at 14:15 they received instructions to proceed with the exercise. Critically he claimed that William changed places before the vehicles moved off and relocated to the rear of the van. As instructed Watson headed towards Market Street but was prevented from making the turn he required due to the positioning of an Army truck. At a speed declared of five to eight miles an hour, he eased to the nearside to get to the proper side of the road and which point an unremarkable vibration was felt and he was advised by others on board that William had fallen off.
Fireman Ernest William Dimmick described the effect of the uneven road and vehicles manoeuvre to have had much greater impact at the rear of the vehicle, he was seated eighteen inches from the tailboard. Dimmick claimed he was thrown against the side and forward and noticed William Batchelor attempt to right himself by rising from his seat, at which point he lost his balance and fell sideways. Dimmick attempted to grab his tunic but was unsuccessful. William fell beneath the equipment carrier and was dragged some distance before Stanley Watson drew the vehicle to a stop. Company Officer Hector Scott, among others, ran to William's aid and did what they could before Dr J.B. Williamson arrived and ordered him to be sent immediately to the Royal National Hospital. At this stage William was able to converse with his colleagues, telling them of the pain in his back and chest.
Other witnesses confirmed the matter of William's fall but added that a deep depression was an issue at that spot of the road and the placing of a granite block may have been a factor. One ARP member stated that the wheels of the trailer-pump clearly left the ground.
At the hospital William had difficulty breathing. Medical inspection discovered the lower part of his chest shattered, two cuts on the head down to the skull and both collar bones broken. William's breathing cycle deteriorated until he eventually passed away in full respiratory failure.
The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death whilst recommending that the depression in the road be addressed as a possible contributory factor and that in the future all such vehicles with open rears should be provided with a length of rope to prevent persons falling out. Before departing the members of the jury passed their collective fees to William's son Samuel George.