James Wishart was born on 14 November 1895 in what was classed as slum housing on Tarbet Street, near Glasgow’s Rottenrow. He was the fourth son of John Wishart, a baker’s van driver from Whalsay, Shetland, and his wife, Helen Marshall.
In 1901 James lived at 176 Stirling Road, and ten years later in a stone tenement building at 56 Laverockhall Street in the Springburn area of Glasgow. He had left school and was working as a message boy for an ironmongery.
Based on his service number it seems likely that James enlisted with the Queen’s Own Royal Glasgow Yeomanry in Glasgow shortly after the war started. Following a spell working on coastal defences in Fife, James embarked for France from Southampton with ‘A’ Squadron of the Yeomanry aboard the SS Nirvana on 31 August 1915, and would likely have seen action at Loos the following month. In May 1916 ‘A’ and ‘B’ Squadrons came together in V Corps Cavalry Regiment until August 1917, when they were sent to Etaples and retrained as an infantry unit. On 23 September 1917, V Corps amalgamated with the 18th Battalion Highland Light Infantry (who were under strength at the time) at Aizecourt Le Bas and became the 18th (Royal Glasgow Yeomanry) Battalion.
The battalion saw action at the Second Battle of Passchendaele and were in the front line trenches at Bernafay Wood and the Briqueterie, north of Maricourt, during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918.
On 25 March James was killed in action and subsequently buried in Bronfray Farm Military Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme (Grave II.G.58.)
He is also commemorated on the Whalsay War Memorial and recorded as James Smith Wishart.