France & Flanders

Killed in action while attacking the village of Passchendaele is 27636 L/Cpl. James Smaile Wishart of 8th (Southland) Company, 2nd Otago Regiment, NZEF. James, from Invercargill, had been at the Western Front since December 1916 and had been wounded in action during the previous August but remained at duty. At zero hour on the 12th, the battalion led the assault and made their attack on a three-company frontage with the 8th on the right.

Continuous rain had turned the landscape into a deep morass and perilous shell holes littered No Man’s Land. The greater proportion of officers and men comprising the leading waves were shot down almost as they left their trenches and those who did make it were faced with a large belt of uncut barbed wire and were mown down by machine guns. Despite the challenges some men from James’ company did gallantly make it through to their objective though it seems likely he was not among them.

A newspaper obituary published after his death recorded that before the war James had worked on his father’s farm and was a member of the Southland Pipe Band and also the Ryal Bush Bible class. He appears to have been popular in the district and is said to have carried away many tokens of esteem. He had seven siblings, and two of his brothers also saw active service at the front. The family form part of tree WIS0002.