18951 Pte. Peter Wishart (1870 – 1955)
Peter Wishart was born during 1870 in the Ballarat suburb of Sebastopol, the elder of two children of Marshall Wishart, a weaver from Fife, and his wife, Caroline Bunting. Before emigrating to Australia in 1860, Peter’s father had fathered two illegitimate sons by two different women, and it seems unlikely Peter and his sister Mary had any knowledge of their half brothers. Tragically, Peter’s mother died, possibly while giving birth to Mary, and with their father often away from home looking for work; the two siblings appear to have had an unstable upbringing and ended up living with their uncle. In 1880 they decided to run away but were picked up by the police in Geelong and kept at the station until their uncle was able to collect them.
In 1899 Peter married Ethel Mary Sumner Robinson in Queensland and left with his new wife for Western Australia where he found work as a miner in Kalgoorlie. Two sons were born in 1900, and 1903 with the family living on Broad Arrow Road by the time the war started in 1914. Peter volunteered for active service on 29 January 1917 and attested in Kalgoorlie on 5 February when he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps. After several months training at Blackboy Hill Peter embarked for Egypt on 17 September and marched into camp at Moascar on 19 October. Six days later Peter was taken on strength of the 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance at Tel El Fara and appointed the rank of driver.
Between 30 April and 3 May 1918, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force saw heavy fighting east of the Jordan River in Palestine in the village of Es Salt. Peter’s unit provided medical support to the battle and in close touch with the attacking forces. On 1 May, while based in the foothills of the river valley, the Field Ambulance faced a rapid Turkish counter-attack, found themselves retreating into the hills where they scattered. During the confusion, a great deal of equipment was abandoned, and men estranged from their units. Peter was among those who went missing and was initially presumed captured; however, he eventually found his way back to the ambulance and taken back on strength on 19 May.
The remainder of Peter’s war has not been documented although it is known that he left Kantara on the transport ship Morvada on 20 July 1919 and arrived back in Australia on 17 August. Returning to Kalgoorlie, Peter went back to the mines and in his later years lived with his son David. Ethel died in 1930 and Peter 25 years later on 17 January 1955.
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