1883 Pte Henry Ernest Wishart (1897 – 1959)

Tree: Unknown
1883 Pte. Henry Ernest Wishart (1897 - 1959)

On 7 February 1879, Louis and Anna Wischkat, a married couple from Berlin, arrived in Moreton Bay from Hamburg onboard the sailing ship the Fritz Reuter. The vessel, which consisted of four square-rigged masts, was said to have been one of the largest at that time and chartered by the Queensland Government to bring 500 immigrants to Australia with the only fee required from the passengers being the equivalent of about £3 to cover the cost of a blanket, two plates, a pannikin, and cutlery. The voyage took almost 130 days during which time typhoid fever claimed the lives of 32 passengers, who were dutifully buried at sea. Before leaving Preußen Louis and Anna had become parents to a baby girl named Luise, however, their joy turned to sadness when she died before reaching four months old. Perhaps it was rising nationalist sentiment that spurred the couple on to turn their gaze towards a new life overseas in New Holland (as it was still often known) and on arrival, they settled in Brisbane. Sometime between 1879 and 1886 Louis and Anna separated with Louis heading west to Perth and Anna remarrying to a Swedish man named Petterson. It seems unlikely they were officially divorced and no further information about Anna is known. Louis, who worked in Perth as a cabinetmaker, remarried on 11 December 1886 to a local lass twenty years his junior, named Maria Kingsborough Richardson. During the next seventeen years, Louis and Maria became parents to eight children and around 1896 they moved to Leederville in the Perth suburbs. Their sixth child (and third son) was born on 14 October 1897 and named Charles Henry. Many of the Wischkat siblings changed or altered their forenames in adulthood and so it is assumed that young Charles decided at some stage to be known as Henry Ernest. At the start of the First World War, and like many other Australians of German birth and descent, the Wischkats changed their surname to avoid discrimination, and then, potentially in 1915, internment in German Concentration Camps. Louis appears to have been less enthusiastic about this and intermittently used his birth name throughout the war, however, his children embraced their new identity and a new generation of Wisharts came into being.

Shortly before hostilities with Germany began in August 1914, young Henry, who was only sixteen years old, joined the 88th (Perth) Infantry Regiment which was a local militia unit in the 5th Military District (Western Australia.) On 11 January 1915, Henry lied about his age and enlisted into the Army and taken on strength of the 4th Reinforcements, 11th Battalion Australian Infantry. At the end of March, he was transferred to the 4th Reinforcements, 16th Battalion and left from Freemantle onboard the HMAT Argyllshire on 19 AprilHenry joined the battalion at the Anzac Reserve Gully on the Gallipoli peninsula on 13 July. and throughout the summer he would have been involved in establishing a defending the front line of the ANZAC beachhead and likely took part in the attack on Hill 971 in early August.

Like many thousands of other men serving at Gallipoli, after months spent living in unsanitary conditions coupled with diseases spread by insects and lice, Henry fell ill while at the front and was sent sick to the nearest Field Ambulance on 22 November. He was eventually evacuated to Malta on 3 December on board the hospital ship Glenart Castle and admitted to Tigne Hospital suffering from dysenteric debility and jaundice. Two months later, and now considered a non-contagious case, Henry boarded the hospital ship Lanfranc for Egypt where he was set to board another ship for Australia, however, shortly after arrival on 5 February 1916 he was deemed fit enough for active service and discharged back to duty on the 19th. Shortly before being taken ill Henry had been promoted and so Lance Corporal Wishart rejoined his unit at the Australian camp at Tel el Kabir on 5 March. Another promotion to corporal followed at the end of May and on 1 June the battalion sailed for Europe where they found themselves being sent to the Somme.

In early August Henry played his part in the Battle of Pozières and went into action during the night of 11 August when his unit attacked enemy lines south of Mouquet Farm. At some point during the following day, Henry was reported as missing and put on the casualty lists, however, two days later he returned to his unit. On 20 August he reverted to the rank of private at his own request, the reasons for are unrecorded, but might be connected to his disappearance the previous week. On the night of the 29th, Henry went into action again in an attack on Mouquet Farm itself. The area was a labyrinth of tunnels and dugouts and after gaining their objectives, the battalion found themselves being attacked from the rear by the enemy who had emerged from underground. Now engaged from all quarters Henry’s unit were forced to fight their way back or surrender. They chose the former and during the fray, Henry suffered gunshot and shrapnel wounds to both his legs and eventually taken from the battlefield to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station where he was also diagnosed with shell shock. On 2 September he embarked in Boulogne for England on board the hospital ship Newhaven and admitted to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton where it appears efforts to save his left leg appear to have been unsucessful.

On 7 February 1917, Henry was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford but briefly sent to the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital in Bulford on 2 April suffering from a venereal disease. He was discharged from Dartford on 25 May and made his way to Weymouth – eventually returning to Australia on board the HT Euripides on 21 July and arriving in Freemantle on 11 September, after which he was discharged from the military on 8 March 1918.

After the war, Henry found work as a clerk in the State Sawmills Department and lived with his brother, who also served in the war, at 335 Charles Street in the Perth suburb of Balcatta. Throughout the rest of his life, Henry was occasionally in trouble with the law for running illegal betting gatherings both from at his home or on the street. Towards the end of his life, he worked as a labourer and died in Perth during 1959.

Are you related to, or think you have further details about Henry?

If so then I’d love to hear from you. Please click the link below or send an email to mail (at) wishart1418.org. Thank you.