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France & Flanders

James Andrew Wishart (1892 – 1916)

Dying of wounds today at No.45 Field Ambulance is 15836 Cpl. James Andrew Wishart of ‘C’ Coy, 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders. Two days earlier, whilst James and his sergeant were resting in a shelter in the Hulloch Loos sector, the enemy fired over several trench mortars and rifle grenades onto the British line, with one bursting above both men causing fatal injuries. James had been in France since November 1914 and had survived the Battle of Loos (where he was shot in the knee) and had been wounded again earlier in 1916 when he was shot in the arm and leg whilst in the reserve line. He had only been back in the trenches for a week when he was wounded for a third time.

Prior to the war he worked as an accountant at the Union Bank in Blairgowrie and was born in Kirkwall, Orkney during 1892. He is part of Wishart Tree 082. James’ personal effects were gathered together on 23 May and recorded as being a whistle, 9 cigarettes, a notebook and a wallet containing a photograph and correspondence. These eventually found their way back to Mr. W H Cromarty, James’ old boss in the Union Bank in Blairgowrie, on 2 October 1916.

Following his death on 21 May, the Reverend W. D. Niven, at the close of his forenoon sermon delivered the following eulogy at the St. Andrew’s U.F. Church in Blairgowrie:

The sad report which reached us last week has proved to be only too true in it’s essentials, and we have to pay our tribute of loving esteem to the seventh of our own gallant band of soldiers who has fallen in service, Corporal James A. Wishart, 7th Cameron Highlanders.

I am not yet certain as to the exact date of his death, but it was about the 5th May. He was resting in a shelter on which a bomb dropped, and, though everything was done for him, he died a few hours later.

His career as a soldier was rather full of hardship. He was severely wounded at Loos last September. Then a few weeks ago he was wounded slightly a second time. He had been only a short time back in the trenches when he received the third and fatal wound.

We knew him as a young man of great promise. That he came from an excellent home, and cherished what he had learned there, was plain. In all duties he was faithful; in all things he was manly, thoughtful, cheerful and helpful.

He made a good soldier. His Captain says of him – “He was an excellent soldier, and as a man his outlook was clean and straight.” And one of his comrades, in a most touching letter, says – “He is sadly missed, for he was ever willing to do anything asked without a grumble, ever ready to help a comrade, and was a tower of strength to his platoon.” That is what all who knew him would expect, for he was a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

We feel deeply his loss, and we feel deeply for those in the distant Orkney home who mourn a son and a brother well-beloved. May the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, till the day break and the shadows flee away.

Captain H. Bruce Johnston, writing to James’ parents on 12 May, said:

I write on behalf of the officers and men of ‘C’ Company, offering you their deepest sympathy in your sad loss – a loss, I can assure you, that will be felt by all. He was an excellent soldier, and as a man his outlook was clean and straight. It is so sad that he should have been killed so soon after his return to the Battalion. We go through a hard time out here, but I think not half so hard as those who are forced to sit at home and wait while all that they may hold dearest is facing the danger consequent on such a terrible war as this. As you have been given strength to give your son to this country, I trust you may be given strength to bear your irreparable loss.

The final word on James must be given to Lance-Corporal John A. Ross, a close friend who wrote to James and Annie Wishart on 8th May:

My Dear Mr & Mrs Wishart, It will be as sad for you to read this note as it is for me to intimate the tragic death of your beloved son Jim. I come now as a good chum of Jim’s to condole with you in your great loss, and although I may not say much, it is with a heavy heart. I met James in Aldershot in our early training, and since then we have been constant friends. I missed him when he was wounded at Loos. He then came out again, just the same dear lad, wounded again, slightly; and some eight days ago he and I had our usual feed at night, and a talk of all that had happened during his absence. It then came our turn to do the trenches, and after the fifth day, in the afternoon, a shell or trench mortar burst on top of the shelter where Jim and another Sergeant were having a rest. Both were seriously wounded and were carried down post haste to the nearest dressing station, however, it was God’s will Jim died a hero’s death a few hours afterwards. The Sergeant died yesterday. He is sadly missed, for he was ever willing to do anything asked without a grumble, ever ready to help a comrade, and a tower of strength to his platoon. He was a great soldier and died a hero’s death. I feel to-night I can’t write more. I am still in the trenches; our spell is not finished. James is buried in a graveyard in a village near the firing line. His other chum, Tom Shumacker, and I intend in two days to rect a cross over our chum, and in another letter I hope to give you the exact place where he lies. He must assuredly be a great loss to you both. I know he is happier than us now, and oh! that he should have lingered on with his terrible injuries. May God spread His wings of comfort over you this night, and help you to bear this awful cross. It may be a comfort to you that each one of us out here is willing to die to save the Hun from reaching our dear shores. Whose turn might it be next? Shumacker and I send our deepest sympathy to you, and earnest wishes that you will bear up, and forgive this crude and rough intimation of the death of a hero.

James was buried in Vermelles British Cemetery (Grave Reference III. H. 4.) He is commemorated on the Blairgowrie and Kirkwall War Memorials and also the Roll of Honour at St. Andrew’s U.F. Church in Blairgowrie.

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