William Gordon Wishart was born on 22 September 1881 at 10 Union Street East in Arbroath. He was the youngest of seven children born to John Shepherd Wishart, a local flaxmill worker, and his wife, Jane Clark Swan.
By the age of eighteen, William was working as a gardener and had joined the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Royal Highlanders – a local unit headquartered in Arbroath. On 15 January 1900, he visited the recruiting office in Dundee and enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery. He was described in a medical examination as being 5 ft 7 ¾” in height with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He had a burn mark on his left wrist and a mole on his right shoulder blade. Two days later William arrived at the artillery depot in Woolwich and was posted to 112 Battery RFA on 15 February. At the start of the new century, William was garrisoned with the battery at the Military Barracks in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and remained with the 112th until 29 October 1901 when he was transferred to the 62nd Battery and posted with his new unit to India.
William served overseas until 6 February 1908 after which he returned to the UK and became a Section B reservist (changing to Section A on 8 July.) Twelve months later on 9 February 1909, he reverted to Section B and was eventually discharged from the army on 14 January 1912, having completed the 1st period of service.
Shortly after returning from India, he found work as a hose-pipe weaver in Dundee and married a confectioner named Jessie Alexander Myles on 29 April 1908 at 11 Ogilvie’s Road. A daughter named Violet was born on 9 February 1909, and by 1911 the family were living at 10 Maule Street in Monifieth. It was at this address on 30 March 1911 that William’s wife died suddenly of valvular endocarditis.
Within a year William left Scotland for Manchester where he lived in the Pendleton area of Salford and worked for F. Reddaway & Co. – a manufacturer of cotton belting, India rubber goods and canvas hose. He met and subsequently married a widow named Mary Ann Corfield (neé Nixon) on 28 September 1912 at St. Barnabus Church, and six months later a son named William was born on 31 March 1913.
Young Violet tragically died in Manchester in early 1914, and following the outbreak of war, William was swiftly mobilised for active service. He left for France with the Royal Field Artillery on 11 March 1915 and was drafted to Mesopotamia, where he joined the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column. A year after arriving in a theatre of war, William was sailing up the Tigris River with a convoy when he accidentally drowned on 1 March 1916.
William is commemorated on both the Basra Memorial in Iraq (Panel 3 and 60) and Arbroath War Memorial in Scotland.