320253 Pte Charles Wishart (1895 – 1970)

Tree: WIS0028

Born at Croft Outerly near Leslie, Fife on 7 September 1895, Charles Wishart was the second of seven children of John Wishart, a carter from Markinch, and his wife, Elizabeth Hain. When he was about three years old, the family moved to Bowling Green Street in Leith. John found work as a dock labourer with Curries Shipping Company, and by 1909 Charles began working for the Edinburgh Roperie Company where he was an oiler and beltsman.

After war with Germany was declared Charles enlisted in Edinburgh on 16 November 1914. Following a medical examination the same day he was passed fit for service and embodied into the Royal Army Medical Corps Territorial Force, and attached to the 3rd Reserve Lowland Field Ambulance. Almost four months later on 3 March 1915, he was transferred to the 1/3rd Lowland Field Ambulance and remained in the UK until 6 June when they left from Devonport for the Meditteranean. The unit formed part of the 52 (Lowland) Division and arrived in Egypt on 21 June before travelling onwards to Gallipoli where they disembarked at Cape Helles between 3-5 July.

Charles was stationed in Gallipoli until the evacuation, and was appointed the rank of acting lance corporal (without pay) on 6 November. He left with the field ambulance in early January 1916 and eventually arrived in Alexandria on board the H.M.T.S. Hororata on the 21st.

He spent over two years with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and was initially based at Abbassia, where, shortly after arrival, he was demoted to the rank of private for making a false report, though no further details are recorded. In 1917 the 52nd Division fought in the Battles of Gaza and participated in the Battle of Jerusalem.

On 6 April 1918, Charles’s section embarked in Alexandria on board the H.T. Malwa for Marseilles where they disembarked on the 17th and made their way to the front. On 8 May he went into the battle line at Vimy and based either at a dressing station in the village, or a mile north near Vimy Ridge. Two months later the division was withdrawn from the area and subsequently fought in the Second Battle of the Somme, the Second Battle of Arras and the Battle of the Hindenberg Line. In his book ‘With The 52nd (Lowland) Division In Three Continents’, Lieutenant Colonel James Young D.S.O. RAMC wrote of this period that:

We were busy in the front, and we were busy behind. The advanced dressing stations had to push forward in the wake of the advancing troops, often moving two or three times a day. The main ambulance was converted into a corps station to tap the wounded of the whole corps of three divisions. Days and nights were filled to the brim.

During this period, on 23 August, Charles was given fourteen days leave to the UK, his first since leaving for Gallipoli in 1915. He eventually rejoined his unit on 15 September but was admitted to a field ambulance himself two weeks later suffering from scabies. On 21 October he was transferred to No. 12 Stationary Hospital in St. Pol and discharged on 7 November. Whether Charles made it back to his unit before the Armistice is unclear, at the time they were based north of Mons in Belgium and he was given nine days leave to Dunkerque on 5 March 1919.

Charles left Boulogne for the UK on 29 May and was demobilised from active service shortly afterwards. On 22 November, while working as a warehouseman back in Leith, he married the daughter of a local stonemason named Helen Wallace at 14 Derby Street. As husband and wife, the couple lived first at 5 Wilkie Place, which was likely a stone tenement building, before moving in the 1930s to 5 Reid Terrace – a house in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh.

Little is known of Charles’ later life. It does not appear that he had any children with Helen, and what career he followed after his pre-WWII job as a packer is unknown. He died, aged 74 in Edinburgh during 1970.

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