10783 Sgt. Arthur Frederick Wishart (1888 – 1952)

Tree: WIS0005

Born on 12 January 1888 in Bald Hills near Bealiba, Victoria, Arthur Frederick Wishart was the third of five children of Francis Wishart, a local labourer working for the railway survey department, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Goddard.

By 1903 the family had moved to Moonee Ponds where young Arthur would eventually find work as a grocer. He joined the Grocers’ Employees Union and soon became active in campaigning for equal pay for its members. On 23 November 1912 Arthur married Elizabeth Annie Ridd in Clifton Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, and lived with her at 6 Emma Street in nearby Collingwood. A son named Francis James was born at the end of May 1913, however, tragically he only lived for three days and would be the only child of the marriage. In his spare time, Arthur was an active member of the Essendon Rowing Club in Moonee Ponds and competed in numerous regattas before the war. His crew won several races including the Stewards Challenge Cup (Senior Four) at Henley.

Arthur enlisted in Melbourne on 5 July 1915 and joined the Australian Army Service Corps. Initially based at the AASC Training Depot, he was eventually sent to the camp at Ascot Vale in Melbourne and stationed there between 1 October and 15 December, after which he was posted to the main AIF camp at Broadmeadows. In March 1916 Arthur was taken on strength of the Headquarters Company, 3rd Divisional Train and embarked in Melbourne for Europe on board the transport ship Persic on 3 June.

After arriving in Plymouth on 27 July, Arthur’s unit was sent to Larkhill Camp on the Salisbury Plain and engaged in a further period of training before proceeding to France from Southampton in late November. Arthur didn’t leave with the initial draft and crossed the Channel on 30 December where he joined the 867th Company, 3rd Divisional Train, AASC. After a spell taking an anti-gas course at the 3rd Divisional School Arthur eventually marched out to join his unit, who were based at La Creche, during February 1917.

On 29 April 1917 Corporal A. F. Wishart wrote to the editor of The Winner newspaper from ‘somewhere in France’:

I wish you would thank two dinkum sports through your columns for sending me copies of “The Winner” every mail. I’ll take a shade of odds they are rowing men. Have struck lots of the boys I used to meet at various regattas over here. The V.R.A. are keeping their end up, believe me.

We all had a pretty rough time during the winter. The weather has been right over the odds. Just now it is lovely, and we are going right on with the business. I am feeling well. Put on about two stone since my last race in Victoria, senior eight at Barwon. Kindly remember me to all the boys who are left through your paper.

During June, while based at Nieppe, the 867th provided support and transport for the Divisional attack on the Messines Ridge. Arthur had recently been promoted to lance sergeant and worked as a part of the divisional pack transport during the battle. At the end of July, he was admitted to the 11th Field Ambulance suffering from a varicocele and sent to the divisional rest station to recover. He returned to his unit several days later and was eventually given two weeks leave to Paris on 21 September.

At the time Arthur returned to the 867th, they were based near Ypres and were involved in a supportive role in the battles at Broodseinde and Passchendaele. At the end of the year, the company was based southeast of Steenwerck and Arthur was promoted to sergeant at the beginning of February 1918. During May, for unknown reasons, he spent another ten days sick in hospital and was given leave to the UK shortly after the 3rd Australian Division had taken part in the Battle of Amiens in early August. He returned after the Second Battles of the Somme (1918) and was possibly present at the Battle of the St Quentin Canal in late September.

Arthur returned to England shortly before the Armistice and found himself based in Warminster for the remainder of 1918. He was eventually discharged from duty while at the ASC Training Depot in Parkhouse and sailed for Australia on board the City of Exeter on 7 January 1919.

After the war, Arthur and Elizabeth lived in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote. Arthur (or Artie as he was known) continued rowing for Essendon and eventually became president of the Yarra Yarra rowing club. He worked as a shop assistant and died aged 64 on 14 February 1952 at Prince Henry’s Hospital in Melbourne. A year later a trophy was presented in memory of Arthur at the Victorian Rowing Association’s annual senior pairs event by the Yarra Yarra club. He was also the brother of 10146 Pte. Ronald Henry Wishart.

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