47766 Gnr. David Smith Wishart (1867 – 1926)

Tree: WIS0048

Between 1867 and 1921 four men named David Smith Wishart were born in Scotland. All were the descendants of James Wishart, a limestone quarryman from Leven, Fife and his wife, Janet Smith with the first being their son, who was born in Dumbarton on 30 June 1867. He was the third of five children and by 1871 was living with his family at 5 Oakbank Street in the parish of Maryhill, Lanarkshire. Shortly afterwards they moved to Carluke, where David’s father died in 1874. Within six months his mother remarried to a Thomas Dick from Edinburgh and lived with him and his children at Hallcraig Houses which were likely a row of cottages occupied by families connected to the local iron mine (Thomas was an oversman at the Hallcraig Ironstone pit.) Three of David’s siblings had died in infancy and his brother John, who was four years older, had gone to live with their uncle, David Smith. By 1881 David had left school and had found work as a pony driver at the iron mine, after which he became a steel smelter in Rutherglen.

On 5 September 1890, David married the daughter of an Edinburgh labourer named Maggie Davidson in Carluke, with eleven children born of the marriage in Rutherglen between 1890 and 1909. Following the wedding, David and Maggie lived at 88 Mill Street but had moved to McAlpine Place by 1892. At the end of 1909 Maggie fell pregnant with their twelfth child, however, on 3 August 1910, she tragically died in childbirth from puerperal eclampsia. No further information is available about the baby, and it seems the child was probably stillborn.

War with Germany broke out in August 1914, and a month later, on 5 September, David visited the recruiting office at Glasgow Cross and enlisted in the Army. At 47-years-old he was almost ten years beyond the upper age limit for enlisted men, but like many others, he lied about his age, declaring that he was only 34. He joined the Scots Guards and was sent to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion in Caterham for training. Eleven days later he was discharged from duty, having been deemed unfit for service which was primarily due to his age (thought to be about 42) and the fact that he did not possess any teeth.

Undeterred David revisited the Glasgow recruiting office two months later on 2 November and enlisted for the second time. On this occasion, he stated he was 37-years of age and that previously he had not been rejected as unfit for the Military. Curiously no mention is made of David’s teeth and that based on his physical description, his real age was obviously nearer 50 than 40; however, he was passed fit for duty and accepted into the Royal Garrison Artillery. The following day he travelled by train to the artillery depot at Great Yarmouth where he spent two months training before being assigned to No. 47 Company, who were based at Tynemouth Castle and tasked with coastal defence work.

On 2 August 1916, David returned to Great Yarmouth. It appears that the military thought he would be better suited to munitions work, and released him from duty so that he could return to Scotland and take up employment with the Clyde Bridge Steel Company in Cambuslang. He continued to receive army pay up until being discharged from service on 14 December 1918.

After the war, David continued working in the steelworks and lived at 18 Garvald Street in the Bridgeton district of Glasgow. Eight years later on 4 November 1926, he died from a heart attack at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

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