Alexander Wishart was born on 14 June 1880 at 1 Victoria Place in Trinity, Leith. He was the only child of David Bishop Amos Wishart, a grocer and spirit merchant, and his wife, Janet Wilson.
It appears that Alexander’s father was probably an alcoholic as four months after his son was born he died from delirium tremens, a condition following acute alcohol withdrawal that could be fatal. Several months later Janet made an application to transfer her late husband’s grocer’s license to her name; however, the license was refused.
At some point during the next ten years, young Alex went to live with his aunt Mary (Wilson) at 2 Nicolson Square in the St. Giles district of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the reason for this is not known, and Alexander’s mother appears to have completely disappeared from his life.
After finishing school, Alexander took up an apprenticeship at a local dentists – eventually becoming a dental technician by 1911. It is not known when he enlisted in the Army; however, it is likely he was conscripted during 1916 and called up for active service in January 1917 and sent to France at the end of March. On arrival, he was sent to join the 10/11th Highland Light Infantry, a unit formed in May 1916 by the amalgamation of the 10th and 11th (Service) Battalions.
As Alexander’s service papers have not survived, his military career is unclear He may have been at the battles of Pilckem and Langemark in 1917 but was definitely at the front in March 1918 when the German Spring Offensive began on the 21st. The following day the battalion came under heavy enfilade rifle and machine-gun fire near Ecoust St. Mein and were forced to withdraw. During the attack, Alexander was hit in his left leg and right hip by shrapnel and left behind. The Germans subsequently took him prisoner, and he was eventually released after the Armistice in November 1918 – arriving back in the UK shortly afterwards.
On return to Edinburgh Alexander returned dentistry again, a profession he continued with until his death from lung cancer in 1952.