On 28 November 1864, a boy waiter from Dunfermline named David Wishart made his way to Edinburgh and joined the 74th Regiment of Foot. Declaring that he was almost 16-years-old the young man must have looked older than his years, for, in reality, he had not yet reached his thirteenth birthday. In total, David would go on to serve seventeen years as a bandsman with the Highland Light Infantry – twelve of which were abroad with postings to Malaya, Hong Kong and India under his belt by the time he was discharged in April 1882.
After his Army career ended David returned to waiting in a Culross restaurant, however, perhaps his taste for foreign shores got the better of him and that his future lay elsewhere, so in 1885 he made the decision to leave Scotland forever and emigrated to New Zealand. Setting up home in Dunedin, David would eventually become a homeopathist and married a Janet Begg on 15 May 1885. Tragedy struck several months later on 18 February 1886 when his wife died, and David, obviously taken with the Begg family, married her sister Isabella the following year. Nine children were born of the union with the fifth – a boy, named David Reid Wishart arriving on 24 August 1896. The family lived on Grant Street and when old enough, young David Jnr. found work as a farm hand for Mr F. W. Burson of Waihaorunga – an occupation he carried when war with Germany was declared in August 1914.
Two years later, on 20 September 1916, David enlisted in Waimate and joined the 22nd Reinforcements, New Zealand (Canterbury) Mounted Rifles. After a period of basic training, David and the reinforcements left from Wellington on board the Manuka on 15 February 1917 and disembarked in Sydney where they trans-shipped and boarded the Boora, which sailed for Egypt via Melbourne – arriving on 20 June. Two days later the draft disembarked and marched to Moascar Camp, near the Suez Canal where they began a period of further training during prior to being sent to their units. On 12 July David was transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps, who were headquartered in Abbassia, near Cairo, and assigned to No 16 (New Zealand) Company on 10 September.
The Cameliers were based in the Sinai when David was taken on strength and through October and November, they advanced through Palestine. At the end of November, the Camel Corps made an unsuccessful attack at Bald Hill in which David received a bomb wound to his face. He was sent down the evacuation route for wounded men from Palestine to Egypt via No 43 Stationary Hospital, Kilo 151 at Masaid, No 44 Stationary Hospital at Kantara and finally to the 27th General Hospital, which was situated about 60 miles from Cairo on the Cairo-Jerusalem road. David ended the year recuperating in a suburb of Cairo at the Aotea Convalescent Hospital in Heliopolis.
David was eventually discharged back to duty on 9 January 1918 and following twelve days based back at the Camel Corps Reserve Depot in Abbassia, he left to rejoin his unit on the 21st. The ICC had left Palestine and were stationed at Rafa on the Sinai Peninsula when David returned, however, he was briefly attached to No. 18 Company between 24 January and 14 February. In early March the Corps began moving north again towards Jerusalem, and at the end of the month made an attack on Hill 3039, which overlooked the town of Amman. In the assault, the 16th Company faced stiff enemy opposition with David succumbing to a gunshot wound in his left shoulder during the day’s events. He was taken to the 75th Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred back to No 43 Stationary Hospital, Kilo 151 and eventually found himself back in Cairo in early April. After a spell at rest camp in Port Said, David was posted to the 7th Training Regiment in Ismailia from where he was transferred back into the Canterbury Mounted Rifles on 12 October – eventually joining the 8th Squadron while they were based north-west of Jerusalem at Richon le Zion.
The Ottoman Turks signed an armistice on 30 October and in order that they comply with the terms of this David’s unit, along with the 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment, formed part of a small force who made their way to the Dardanelles the following month. David embarked in Kantara on the troopship HMT Huntscastle on 27 November and eventually disembarked on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 6 December where he billeted in a filthy and verminous Turkish hospital between Maidos and Kilid Bahr. Winter had set in and many of the men were returning areas where they had fought some three years earlier. Much of Canterbury’s time would have been spent working in reconnaissance parties and identifying and marking graves of those killed in action during the bloody nine months of 1915.
Six weeks later on 19 January 1919, the Rifles left Gallipoli on board HMT Norman and arrived in Port Said three days later. David remained in Egypt until 30 June when he returned to New Zealand on board HMT Ulimaroa which eventually docked in Wellington on 13 August. He was eventually discharged from duty on 9 September having served two years, 351 days in the forces.
After the war, David briefly went to live in Waihacrunga where he found work as a shepherd, and in 1924 he married Rosa Sophia Cox in Balclutha. A son was born in 1928 and the family lived just outside town near the Clutha River in Barnego. During the Second World War, the Wisharts went to live in Dunedin and took up residence at 67 York Place. David turned his hand to carpentry – a profession he would continue with until retiring in the late 1950s. He died in Dunedin on 13 July 1974 aged 77 years and is buried with his wife in Anderson’s Bay Cemetery.