13/2264 Tpr Bertie Wishart (1887 – 1968)
Herbert (Bertie) was born in Bealiba, Victoria on 27 July 1887. He was the illegitimate child of Elizabeth Lovel and her brother-in-law William Henry Wrathall. After Bertie was born, Elizabeth’s sister Mary Ann (Wrathall) took him and raised him as hers until he was about ten years old. On 7 June 1897 Bertie’s mother married William Henry Wishart, and consequently, Bertie went back to live with her and adopted his stepfather’s surname.
The family moved to New Zealand around 1904 and by 1911 had settled in the small rural community of Mahoe near the town of Stratford. Shortly afterwards Bertie left home and lived in Te Teko where he worked as a cheese factory manager for the Tarawera Dairy Company. He enlisted in Trentham on 14 June 1915 and joined the Auckland Mounted Rifles which was one of four regional mounted rifles regiments raised to serve overseas in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
As part of the 6th Reinforcements, Bertie spent two months training at Trentham before embarking on board one of two ships that left for Egypt on 14 August. After over a month at sea, he eventually disembarked at Suez on 19 September before proceeding to Mudros Harbour on Lemnos Island and joined his unit. On 10 November the AMR sailed for Anzac Cove on board the HMT Osmanich and on arrival moved to Waterfall Gully where they spent the next fortnight digging shelters and terracing hillsides. The regiment, who had previously fought at Gallipoli since May, and left in September with less than 100 men, returned with ten officers and 286 other ranks.
It appears that Bertie did not embark for the peninsula with his unit, and remained in Mudros until late-December when he rejoined them after they had left Gallipoli for Egypt on 22 December. The AMR arrived in Alexandria on board the HMT Hororata four days later and boarded a train for Zeitoun Camp, near Cairo.
On 23 January 1916 the Rifles left for the Suez Canal, a journey that took seven days, where they began a period of training and manning the Suez defences. In mid-July, while based in Kantara, Bertie was transferred into the Imperial Camel Corps and assigned to No 15 (New Zealand) Company, which had been formed from AMR reinforcements and initially part of the 3rd Battalion (latterly the 4th from August 1917.) Bertie was sent for training at Abbassia, which was the main barracks at Cairo, and eventually joined the battalion in the field at the end of July 1917.
Bertie was wounded by shrapnel in his right arm and leg on 8 November when his unit was involved in operations to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba. In the attack, 15 Coy was on the right centre-half of a formation that advanced northwards on Wadi Fattas and met strong enemy opposition. He was evacuated to the nearest casualty clearing station and admitted to No. 44 Stationary Hospital in Kantara four days later before being transferred to No. 27 General Hospital in Abbassia. On 25 November Bertie was sent to recuperate at the Aotea Convalescence Hospital at Heliopolis; however, he soon found himself back at the general hospital and underwent another operation to remove more shrapnel from his thigh. He was eventually discharged back to duty on 16 January and returned to the Reserve Depot three days later before rejoining the regiment in the field on 21 January 1918. Within a week Bertie’s old injuries began playing up again, and he was admitted to No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital at Moascar for further treatment.
In late February, while garrisoned at the depot in Abbassia, Bertie was awarded 4-days Field Punishment No.2 for being absent from camp without permission for almost five hours. Following this misdemeanour, he returned to hospital for the third time suffering from his wounds and was transferred back to the AMR with a draft of 131 other men on 31 July. During late September Bertie probably took part in the major offensive against the Turkish forces along the Mediterranean coast in which the AMR saw action east of Jerusalem at Amman. Many men in the regiment had suffered from malaria, Bertie was no exception and was taken sick on 4 October. After several days at the casualty clearing station in Jerusalem, he was transferred to No. 36 Stationary Hospital in Gaza and then the 71st General Hospital in Heliopolis.
Bertie eventually recovered from malaria and was discharged to the New Zealand Camp at Ismailia where he transferred into the 2nd Machine Gun Squadron which was part of the Training Regiment. With the war over, he now began the long journey home to New Zealand and arrived in Wellington on board the SS Wiltshire on 1 February 1919. It was raining hard as the ship drew alongside the wharf, yet despite the weather, the troops were said to have been given a ‘most hearty’ reception, with a local band playing patriotic tunes as the men disembarked. Bertie was discharged from service on 31 October 1919 and went to work in the Pokomoko Cheese Factory in Meremere.
On 14 November 1920 Bertie was found collapsed on the road with a motorcycle on top of him. A local newspaper carried the story:
A man named Bertie Wishart was found on the South road near Omata about 6:30 yesterday evening in a semi-conscious condition and with a motor bicycle lying on top of him. The discoverer of the mishap (Mr J. Nelson) endeavoured to assist the injured man to a nearby house, but Wishart collapsed. Dr. Fookes was summoned, and the man ordered to the hospital. He is suffering from a fractured skull and is in a serious condition. The cause of the accident appeared to have been due to the military overcoat which the rider was wearing becoming entangled in a cog in the back wheel of the machine.
As a result of the accident, Bertie had a metal plate fitted in his head. In 1923 he married Elsie May Exler at St. Luke’s Church in Mount Albert, Auckland, and four children were born of the marriage. By the mid-1930s the family had moved to New Lynn, which is a residential suburb in Auckland, and Bertie worked as a cheesemaker until he retired in the 1950s.
Bertie died in Auckland on 16 June 1968 aged 80 years.
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