1956 L/Cpl. Charles Wishart (1886 – 1917)
On 18 December 1881, an iron full-rigged ship called the Duke of Athole left Glasgow and was towed by the tugboat Conquerer into Lamlash Bay where she began her three-month voyage to Brisbane, Queensland. On board were 311 emigrants, 300 of whom were Scottish with 222 of those receiving assisted passage. The majority of passengers were farm labourers, and on arrival in Australia, after lying at anchor off Cape Moreton, the ship was eventually allowed to enter the port on 28 March 1882.
Among those arriving were James and Helen Wishart from Leslie, Fife, and their five children. The oldest child, also named James, subsequently made his way to New Zealand, where he married an Irish lass called Mary O’Brien in Wyndham on 11 August 1884. Shortly afterwards their first child was born and named James after his paternal grandfather. He was followed two years later by a second son who was born in Invercargill and named Charles (after his maternal grandfather.) Around 1888 James and Mary left New Zealand with their children and moved back to Queensland, and by 1898 Charles had become the brother of five siblings.
In 1902 James took up farming in Redbank, a suburb of the City of Ipswich and was eventually appointed the job of night watchman at the Campbell and Towns Freezing Works. When old enough Charles joined his father at the works and was assigned the role of fireman.
Unlike many of his friends, Charles did not rush to enlist in the army after war broke out, however, his mind was changed by an event that had been designed to affect men just like Charles who perhaps had doubts about signing up. On 29 November 1915, the March of the Dungarees, which was a snowball (recruiting) march that took place in South-East Queensland to recruit men into the military, passed through Redbank. A newspaper article published several days later reported that:
The children greeted the men with hearty cheers, and marched before them with flying flags, singing patriotic songs, until the State school was reached. Here the men rested for a short time, and were supplied with soft drinks, cakes, etc. Mr. J. P. Carter delivered a short, appropriate speech, welcoming the recruits to Redbank, and telling them he was sure they would fight well for the mother country and uphold the honour of Australia. He wished them “au revoir,” not “adieu”. The men were heartily cheered as they started onwards to Goodna. The occasion impressed Charles to the extent that he immediately began making plans to join the army, and made his way to Brisbane where he enlisted on 21 December.
Private Wishart was initially assigned to the 35th and then 36th Battalions before being transferred to the 2nd Reinforcements, 42nd Infantry Battalion on 23 February 1916. However, on 1 April he was assigned to the 2nd Reinforcements, 4th Pioneer Battalion and embarked in Sydney for Egypt on board the R.M.S. Mooltan eleven days later. The voyage took just over four weeks, and after disembarking in Suez on 18 May, Charles proceeded to Alexandria, where he boarded the Ionian for Marseilles on 6 June.
On arrival in France Charles entrained for the front and reached the 4th Australian Divisional Base Depot in Etaples on 11 August. Three days later he proceeded to join his new unit and was taken on strength of the 4th Pioneer Battalion on 19 August. The pioneers were billeted near the village of Warloy-Baillon on the Somme at the time Charles arrived and were engaged in a period of training. Within a month Charles found himself in trouble having gone AWOL for over 24 hours and was given ten days Field Punishment No.2 and forfeiture of twelve days pay as a result.
Much of Charles’ time over the next nine months was spent providing support for the infantry units and would have involved a great deal of trench digging and maintenance. In April 1917 the battalion was present at, albeit in a supportive role, the Battle of Bullecourt followed by the Battle of Messines of June. On 12 May Charles was appointed the rank of lance corporal but was killed by a high explosive shell on 24 June while working on communication trenches near Messines. He was one of six casualties, two of whom died, and his body was buried at Kandahar Farm Cemetery.
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