William James Wishart was born during 1888 in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. He was the third son of Walter Wishart, a recruiting sergeant with the Royal Artillery, and his wife, Emma Simms. At the time of William’s birth, his father was stationed with the 3rd Brigade (Northern Division) in Berwick and recruiting in the South Shields area. In 1889 Walter was accused and convicted of assault and sentenced to six-weeks hard labour. He denied all charges brought against him, and as result of his imprisonment, his (unblemished) military career came to an end. By 1891 the family had moved to Newcastle and were living at 56 Gallowgate, William’s father was working as a general labourer, and his older brother Walter had left school and was bringing home a wage as a telegraph messenger.
In 1901 the Wisharts had moved west of the city centre to 20 Shuttleworth Street in the parish of Elswick. William’s first job after leaving school was an impression taker of cannons at the Elswick Ordnance Company. At the time he was boarding with a family at 237 Monday Street in Newcastle, and towards the end of 1913, he married a local domestic servant named Mary Bulmer.
At the time war broke out in the summer of 1914 William and Mary were living at 185 Stanton Street in Newcastle. He enlisted in Newcastle with the Remounts Service of the Army Service Corps, a unit responsible for the provisioning of horses and mules to all other army units. At some point during the next three years, William transferred to the 6th (Service) Battalion Dorset Regiment.
The Dorsets had been at the front since July 1915, and by early April 1918 were in training at Halloy-Les-Pernois on the Somme. On 14 April the battalion took over the line north of Albert near Mesnil. The following day, while based in a trench along the front line, eight men of the battalion were killed, including William. Of the eight, six have no known grave suggesting that they were the victims of shellfire. William was among the six and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial (Panel 48.) He was the older brother of Henry Albert Wishart, a stoker in the Royal Navy who had lost his life at Jutland two years earlier.