3025 Pte. David Wishart (1886 – 1956)

Tree: WIS0138

David Wishart was born on 22 July 1886 at 2 Rankeillor Place in Edinburgh. He was the third of three children of Robert Wishart, a lithographic draughtsman, and his wife, Mary Ann Spencer Jones. By 1891 the family had moved to 30 St. Leonard’s Street and then to London around the turn of the century. Little is known about David’s mother other than that she was born in Northumberland but appears to have left the family unit by the time of the 1901 census. David, then aged 15, had found work as a letterpress printer and lived with his father, older sister Francis and a half-brother by his mother’s previous marriage, at an attractive late-Victorian terraced house on Byron Road in Wealdstone. Tragically, Robert died suddenly aged 42 towards the end of 1901 and ten years later young David found himself living in Hastings and working as a hotel porter.

On 25 January 1912 David left from Liverpool for Australia on board the Everton Grange and arrived in Sydney on 6 April. At the time he emigrated David had been working as a valet, and based on his attestation papers, it appears he found similar employment after arrival.

David enlisted at the Royal Agricultural Society grounds in Sydney on 1 March 1916. The examining medical officer recorded that he was 5ft 2″ in height and had fair complexion and eyes. He was passed fit for duty and posted to M Company of the Depot Battalion in Bathurst before being transferred to ‘C’ Company of the 53rd Battalion on 25 April. After six months training, David joined the 7th Reinforcements, 57th Battalion at Liverpool on 20 October and embarked in Sydney on board the Afric on 3 November. He disembarked in Plymouth on 9 January 1917 and marched to the 15th Training Battalion at Camp 7 in Hurdcott, which was located near the village of Fovant.

On 20 March 1917, David sailed from Folkestone for France, where upon arrival he marched to the 5th Australian Divisional Base Depot in Etaples. Two days later he was assigned to the 57th Battalion, and along with 66 other men, joined them in the field at Beaumetz on 26 March. The reinforcements first taste of life at the front must have been something of a baptism of fire as on the day they arrived the 57th were in support of an attack on Louverval, and by 10:00 pm, while fighting a strong German counter-attack, found themselves having to retire. The following day the battalion was relieved having lost 80 men during the previous 48 hours. In April and May David was probably present at The Battles of Bullecourt in which the battalion took on a defensive role.

At the start of July David was sent to the 5th Army School and returned to his unit on 8 August. It’s not clear what he was doing there other than that perhaps he was undertaking some kind of specialist training, and he would make two more visits to Army Schools in September and November respectively. In late September David was probably involved in the Battle of Polygon Wood and was admitted from the 2nd Army School to the 26th General Hospital in Etaples on 11 November suffering from an undocumented illness. Whatever his condition, it was serious enough to keep him out of the trenches for the best part of the next seven months, and he eventually rejoined his unit at the Somme on 3 July 1918.

On the last day of July, David was given twenty-days leave to England and eventually made it back to the battalion in mid-August when they were advancing east of Amiens. The 57th Battalion undertook it’s last major offensive of the war on 29 September when along with the American forces, two Australian Divisions attempted to break through the German defences along the St Quentin Canal. In the attack, David’s unit began their advance through heavy fog about 7:15 am and eventually emerged into the clear as they descended down the high ground above Bellicourt. Unknown to the battalion, the enemy had been observing their movements, and as soon as they reached the canal, they opened up on the Australians with heavy artillery and machine-gun fire. The Germans then began to work around the Australian’s flanks and in the fray, David received a gunshot wound in his left arm. He was evacuated off the battlefield to 41 Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred to the South African General Hospital in Abbeville.

On 2 October David found himself heading back to England where he was admitted to the Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester. His war was now at an end and shortly after the 11 November armistice, he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford to complete his recovery. David’s final few weeks overseas were spent based at the Australian No2 Command Depot in Weymouth and he returned to Australia on 18 January 1919 on board the troopship Margha, which arrived in Sydney on 9 March.

David was discharged from service on 20 July and after the war, he lived in Croydon Park where he worked as a provisions merchant and died there during July 1956. He does not appear to have ever married.

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