William Donald Wishart was born at 7 Castle Street in Brechin on 12 August 1876. He was the son of William Wishart, a tailor from Marykirk, Kincardineshire, and Caroline Fraser. William’s father died just before William’s tenth birthday, and consequently, his mother (a Gaelic speaker from Dingwall) raised him and his five siblings alone and made ends meet by working in the local mill as a flax preparer.
Before the war, William lived at Coralbank Terrace in Rattray with his mother and worked as a gardener. He enlisted on 12 February 1916 in Perth and joined the 3rd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers. In a medical examination, William was described as being 5ft 5″ tall, weighing 124 lbs and having a fresh complexion, light blue eyes and light brown hair. He had informed the recruiting officer he was 38 years old, when in fact he was six months shy of 40, and it was noted that he had developed a curvature of the spine and varicose veins, which were classified as severe on one leg.
The 3rd Battalion was a reserve unit stationed in Edinburgh at the time of William’s enlistment, and he was subsequently mobilised for service on 6th May and posted to ‘C’ Company. William remained on home service until 9 January 1917 when he embarked at Folkestone for Boulogne. The following day he was sent to the 21st Infantry Base Depot at Etaples, where he was classified as ‘Permanent Base’ on arrival. He was assigned to the 7/8th Kings Own Scottish Borderers; however, it appears unlikely that he joined the battalion in the field. It seems more probable that William was attached to the 5th Army Infantry School at Saint Léger-les-Domart and worked in a non-combative role – perhaps labouring (which he had been involved in before arrival in France) or in an administrative capacity.
William was given a month’s leave from 17 February 1918 and was sent from the 5th A.I.S. back to the UK, thus supporting the theory that he wasn’t active in the field. At some point after returning to France, he was attached to GHQ RAF School from where he left for dispersal in the UK during early March 1919. On 6 April he was transferred to the Army Reserve and permitted to return home to Scotland. William was eventually discharged from service on 31 March 1920.
After the war, William continued to work as a gardener and lived the rest of his life in Blairgowrie. He never married and died on 11 April 1958 in Burghmuir Hospital, Perth. He had been living at 25 Davie Park Place in Rattray, Blairgowrie.