First Day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)
Killed in action during the Third Battle of Ypres (commonly known as Passchendaele) is 201173 Pte. John Wishart – a Dundee man serving with the 4th/5th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders.) John’s unit formed the left of the 118th Brigade, 39th Division and were tasked with taking a well-fortified enemy position behind a small river known as the Steenbeek. The battalion reached their assembly point for the final advance about ten o’clock in the morning, and made it across to their objective sustaining only a few casualties. On the brigade right the Cheshire Regiment had successfully taken St. Julien, however in the centre, a battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment were heavily hit, to the extent that they had been almost obliterated. This exposed the Cheshires left flank and consequently the Highlanders on the right. Exposed, and under withering machine gun and artillery fire John’s unit was forced to pull back to the river, and suffered many casualties – including John. His body was never recovered and he was subsequently commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 37.) He is also recorded in the Dundee Roll of Honour and was part of tree WIS0140.
The same day in the misty half-light of dawn, 267906 Pte. Albert Wishart of the 9th Battalion Black Watch advanced behind a creeping barrage across a battlefield dramatically illuminated by bursting shells and flares. Little enemy opposition was encountered until the battalion reached the enemy reserve line, where, from that point onwards, hidden machine guns and snipers dealt stiff opposition. By 4:45 am the 9th reached their first objective and having secured the second, reached the final (about 400 yards east of Frezenberg) around 6:30 am. The position held by the Highlanders was described as being anything but ideal and under the direct gaze of enemy guns situated on the ridges further to the east and north. The battalion war diary recorded that “the shelling was very heavy, worse than any of us remember having received on the Somme, and this continued all day.” It will probably never be known when Albert fell, his body was never recovered and he was reported as being among the 45 missing in action from the battalion. Almost a full year would pass before Albert was officially recognised as having been killed. He was subsequently commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres and isn part of tree WIS0095.