John Wishart was born on 1 January 1894 at 1 John Street in Dundee, Forfarshire. He was the youngest of three children of John Wishart, a labourer from Montrose, and his wife, Catherine Davidson Wilson.
In 1901, when John was seven, he was living with his family in a tenement block at 35 Benvie Road in the parish of Liff & Benvie. John’s older brother Alexander had served time with the Black Watch Volunteers in the first decade of the twentieth century, and perhaps he inspired John to enlist with the military in Dundee during June 1910, when he joined the Royal Scots.
Based on men with service numbers close to John’s, it seems probable that he was initially sent for training with the 3rd Battalion at Glencorse Barracks, before being transferred to the 2nd Battalion on 31 October. John’s unit was stationed at Edinburgh Castle until 29 September 1911 at which point they were sent to Crown Hill Barracks in Plymouth before going overseas.
The 2nd Royal Scots embarked in Southampton on board the SS Dongola on 27 January 1912 and sailed for Bombay, where they arrived on 16 February. Shortly after arrival John was transferred to the 1st Battalion, who were garrisoned in Allahabad, and remained based there until shortly after the outbreak of war when the battalion left by train for Bombay and embarked on 12 October 1914 for Plymouth on the HMT Aragon.
The Royal Scots arrived back in the UK on 17 November and entrained for Winchester where they encamped east of the town at Morn Hill. The 21st Brigade (of which the 1st Royal Scots were part of) marched to Southampton on 19 December where John’s unit embarked on the City of Dunkirk for Le Havre. By the 22nd they had reached Aire-sur-la-Lys, and by the night of 9 January 1915 had taken over trenches near Dicksbusch in Belgium, where they remained until 20 March. During this period the men suffered very heavily from frostbitten feet, resulting in over 300 from the battalion became non-effective in the space on one month. Close examination of surviving service papers of men with similar regimental numbers, and the same unit transfer details to John, it seems very likely that he was one of the unlucky Royal Scots who had been affected by the freezing conditions and sent back to the United Kingdom to recuperate.
On 8 June 1915, a draft of reinforcements was assigned to the 11th Royal Scots. About half were men who had previously served with the 1st or 2nd Battalions, and John was probably among those who arrived with his new unit five days later while they were billeted in the village of Isbergues, which is south of Hazebrouck.
Unfortunately, as John’s service papers have not survived, it can only be assumed that during the September 1915 he saw action at the Battle of Loos, and then in 1916, several battles at the Somme including the capture of Longueval, The Battle of Delville Wood and The Battle of Le Transloy.
In early 1917 John was wounded somewhere in France and sent to Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow to recuperate. He arrived by train on 24 February and was subsequently based at Glencorse Barracks after he was discharged. During this period he married Jean or Jane Murray on 9 April at 5 Suffolk Road in Edinburgh. Jean was the daughter of a mason and working in domestic service at the time of the wedding. On the marriage certificate John’s occupation is recorded as being a sergeant in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Scots and in addition to the barracks address, notes that he was currently with the B.E.F. in France.
John appears to have remained based in Edinburgh until at least late summer 1917, after which time he returned to France and possibly attached to the 13th Battalion, Royal Scots.
John’s first child, a daughter named Isabella Victoria was born on 24 May 1918 at 17 Waverley Park in Edinburgh. He had been wounded during the German Spring Offensive in late March and returned to the UK in early April, although it is currently unknown whether he returned to the war for a third time after recovering from his injuries.
After the war, John worked as a bricklayer and lived with his family at 1 Milton Street in Edinburgh. A second daughter named Jean Murray was born on 29 October 1930; however, she sadly died of tuberculosis, aged three, on 28 April 1934. At the time the couple had moved to Binny near Uphall, where John lived out the rest of his days.
John died from kidney disease aged 43, on 28 June 1937 at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.