William Livingstone enlisted in the Royal Ulster Rifles on the 24 March 1930. His early service years took him to places such as Palestine, Egypt, and Hong Kong. While serving in Hong Kong, he joined Star of the East LOL No. 802.
After his stay in Hong Kong, Livingstone was posted to India and returned home to the United Kingdom via Bombay.
In 1940, Livingstone was stationed in Wales but in 1941 his battalion prepared for overseas duties and sailed from Liverpool to India.
In India, they were stationed at Secunderabad. During this time, Livingstone was promoted firstly to Regimental Sergeant Quarter Master then to Regimental Sergeant Major. Also, during this time, many men left the unit for jungle warfare in Burma.
Livingstone followed suit and joined his battalion in Burma in 1943. He was recommended for the Military Cross by Major W.P. Scott who said that “throughout the campaign, his courage, bearing and endurance have been of a high order and inspiration to British, Burmese and Gurkha ranks alike.”
Livingstone returned to India injured and spent a long time recuperating in hospital. After his stay in hospital, Livingstone and his battalion were stationed in Karachi (in modern day Pakistan). At the end of WWII Livingstone was offered the position of Captain if he stayed in the army. He declined this offer and returned home to Ulster to be with his wife and family.