William was the elder of twin boys born on 25 April 1886 at Barebrecks, Kirbister in the parish of Orphir, Orkney. Along with brother Robert (younger by fifteen minutes), they were the sixth and seventh children of James Flett Wishart, a local shoemaker, and his wife, Jessie Wishart, who was his first cousin. William’s father eventually turned his hand to farming, and it seems likely that William followed him into the fields after he had left school.
Regrettably, William’s service papers have not survived, however, based his service number he is likely to have enlisted in Kirkwall at the end of 1915, or at the latest, beginning of 1916, and called up for service on 29 May. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was sent for training at the regimental depot at Fort George on 1 June.
On 9 October 1916, William left Devonport for Mesopotamia (Iraq) and arrived in Basrah with a draft of recruits on 2 December. Thirteen days later he was taken on strength of the 1st Seaforths who were part of the Meerut Division and following a spell in France had arrived in the Middle East during late 1915.
After arrival William may have participated in the fighting at Sannaiyat during February 1917 and was possibly present at the Fall of Baghdad the following month. The battalion fought three more actions between March and April at Moushahdieh, Beled and Istabulat.
During this period William fell ill with dysentery, which was rife amongst the soldiers, and died on 8 May 1917. He was buried in the Amara War Cemetery (grave IV. E. 4.) and also commemorated on the Orphir War Memorial.