220393 Sgt David Wishart (1888 – 1918)

Tree: WIS0023
David Wishart (1888 - 1918)

David Wishart was born in the early hours of 24 January 1888 in Longforgan, Perthshire. He was the third of six children of John Wishart, an estate labourer from Cults, and his wife, Jessie Williamson.

Before the war, David worked as a general labourer and was well known in junior football circles. In 1915 he enlisted with the 3/2nd Lovat Scouts – a new unit raised in Beauly during July to provide drafts for the 1st and 2nd Line battalions and by 1916 had risen to the rank of lance corporal. At the time he was based at Scone Army Camp. His father now ran a farm at Wester Dura near Cupar and whilst on leave he met a local domestic servant named Catherine Mackenzie who he married in Cupar on 1 August 1916.

The 3/2nd Lovat Scouts disbanded in early 1917, and David was subsequently transferred to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He soon attained the rank of sergeant and became an instructor at various army camps. While residing in Glenmoriston, Inverness he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and drafted to France in September/October 1918 where he was possibly involved in the Battle of the Selle during mid-October. The assault was designed to close the gap on the retreating German army and get the British troops in strength across the River Selle in preparation for a further attack along the Sambre-Oise Canal, where the enemy had taken up defensive positions in a last-ditch stand. The battalion saw action on the 17th and 18th, after which they went into billets at La Vallée-Mulâtre. The British subsequently crossed the river on 20 October, and the Germans forced back towards the Sambre-Oise Canal.

After a brief period of rest, David’s unit was in action again at the Battle of the Sambre in an attack that would become the last the British army fought during the war. On the evening of 3 November, the Highlanders marched through a very dark and cloudy night towards an assembly point near the Sambre-Oise, taking up positions around midnight behind a series of four parallel hedges about 300 to 800 yards from the canal. During the battle, the Camerons were to advance on the right with the North Lancashires on the left and 1st Black Watch in support. Bridging operations were carried out by the 23rd Field Company, who assigned two crossing points to the Camerons about 1500 yards south of Catillon.

Zero-hour came just before dawn, David made his way towards the canal through dense mist and under cover of a supporting bombardment. With the bridgeheads established, the battalion crossed over and eventually reached both their objectives. The Battalion War Diary makes no mention of casualties that day, however, ‘Soldiers Who Died in the Great War’ lists 17 men of the 1st Camerons who died on the 4th, either of wounds or killed in action, and a further ten who died of wounds during the following two weeks. David was amongst the latter, and in addition to receiving gunshot wounds to his legs, he also fractured his left thigh and both elbows. He was taken to No.3 Stationary Hospital in Rouen, where he died on the 15th and has the unhappy distinction of being the last Wishart to lose his life as a direct result of enemy action during the Great War.

He was buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen (Grave Ref: S. III. HH. 14.) and commemorated on the war memorial in Cupar, Fife.

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