Magnus Wishart was born in Leith on 17 November 1896. He was the second of four children of James Fraser Wishart, a warehouseman from Northmavine, and his wife, Christine Clark. By 1901 the family had moved to 265 Gala Park Road in Galashiels and within a decade left Scotland and relocated to Grimsby where they lived at 47 Fairmont Road. James had found employment as a fish curer while Magnus, aged fourteen, was employed as an errand boy in a local grocery.
By 1914 Magnus had joined his father in the fish house and after the outbreak of war, enlisted with the Grimsby Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment (The Grimsby Chums) in Grimsby on 28 October. The battalion had been formed on the 9 September by the town council as a territorial battalion and was subsequently known as the 10th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment when they became part of the British Army.
In his army medical Magnus was recorded as being just over 5ft 7″ in height and weighing 122 lbs. He had a fresh complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. He was passed fit for duty and after training was sent to France on 15 April 1916 where on arrival he was transferred to ‘C’ Company of the 8th Lincolns.
Magnus took part in the Battle of the Somme and on 1 July, which was the first day, his unit attacked at Fricourt as part of the 63rd Brigade and suffered heavy losses. By April 1917 the battalion was based in the Arras area where they saw action between the 23rd and 29th of that month, suffering casualties of 8 officers and 516 other ranks. During this period Magnus’ parents became worried about him, having not heard any news or received correspondence. His mother subsequently wrote to the Infantry Record Office in Lichfield in June 1917:
Would you kindly give me any information about my son Private Magnus Wishart no. 1056 8th Lincolnshire Regt. We have recived (sic) no letters or news from him for 6 weeks and we are getting a little anxious about him. Please would you send word as soon as possible.
Magnus’ battalion had been moving about quite a bit, and it is possible that he had not had the opportunity to write – or that his letters had been lost. The battalion was involved in the attack on Rifle Farm on 31 July 1917, and in early August, while the battalion was based at Chinese Wall, Magnus returned to the UK for an unspecified reason and posted to the regimental command depot in Lichfield.
On 22 September, Magnus was given ten days leave and returned to Grimsby for the first time in well over a year. It appears that he was then assigned to a territorial battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment (possibly the 3rd which was a training unit based in Grimsby) before being sent to No. 18 Company of the R.A.M.C. in January 1918. He was stationed in London at some point over the next year and eventually discharged from service on 25 April 1919.
After the war, on 7 June 1920, Magnus married Elsie Dawson in Grimsby and had three daughters and one son with her. In 1936 the family lived at 59 First Avenue in Grimsby and Magnus died in the town during 1972.