A great many Wisharts answered Kitchener’s call for volunteers and signed up following the outbreak of war. Although a few would see action in France by the year’s end, the majority of the ‘new army’ Wisharts didn’t cross the English Channel until 1915, with a number sailing further afield to the Dardanelles, Balkans, Mesopotamia, Egypt and East Africa.
Wisharts were involved in a variety of roles ranging from clerical workers, labourers and nurses to front line infantry rank and officer duties. Being a predominantly Scottish surname, many were attached to Scottish regiments, however there were also strong contingents from Canada, Australia and New Zealand – with several men also coming from South Africa and Tasmania. The number of American Wisharts who served overseas isn’t currently known. Several hundred men filled in draft registration cards although not all would have seen service. Where identified, I have listed those who were known to have served with the American Expeditionary Force.
By and large the larger majority of individuals came from very humble, and often impoverished backgrounds, and it seems very likely that engaging in service overseas would have been the first time they’d have left the immediate area in which they lived. Of all the men and women who were sent to foreign countries, eighty-two did not return.
The website was conceived and maintained by Scott Wishart, whose interest in World War One started in 1988 when he saw a production of R. C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End at the Whitehall Theatre in London, and has since become fascinated by the lives of ordinary people who were plucked from everyday life and thrust into the extremes of human experience, often with courage and tenacity that they might never have realised had they stayed at home. This site seeks to recognise and honour those who, often at the expense of their own lives, have fought for their beliefs and of course their friends, family and countrymen.
Scott is a member of the Western Front Association and the project was recently accepted into the Great War Centenary Partnership Network. He is also one of the founders of the global Wishart collaborative project ‘Wishart Connections‘.
The project is ongoing, and made all the more possible with the assistance of Lt. Col Jack Wishart and all the Wisharts from around the world who have submitted their own family stories and artefacts.
To date detailed biographies have been written for over two-hundred individuals, and will be published in a trilogy of books. The first will cover Wisharts (from all countries) who were killed in action or subsequently died of wounds. The second will document the Wisharts from the United Kingdom who survived the war, whilst the third will be focused on those who also survived, but were residents of the Commonwealth and USA.