Peter Wishart was a gifted horseman, and had worked with horses ever since leaving school; starting as a stable boy and working his way up to being an experienced groom – when he broke horses and drove them with both single and double harnesses.
After war broke out, Peter recognised his skills would be of use to the army and enlisted in early 1915 as a driver with a Field Company of the Royal Engineers. Tragically, four months after signing up, as his unit was leaving for France, Peter fell seriously ill and died.
He was born in the early afternoon of 15 November 1886 in Kirkton in Burntisland, Fife, the third of five children of Robert Wishart, a worker at the Grange Distillery, and his wife, Margaret Ronaldson. He began working with horses aged fourteen and got a job as a stable boy in the home of George Simpson, a chief accountant at the North British Railway, who lived at 11 Fountainhall Road in Edinburgh.
By 1911 Peter had returned to his parents home at Fyfe’s Buildings in Kirkton and was working as a groom in the employ of Mr James Beveridge of St. Leonard’s Hill, Dunfermline. Shortly after the outbreak of war his older brother Robert enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders which may have influenced Peter signing up himself three months later. On 4 February 1915, he joined the Royal Engineers at Dumfries and was assigned to the 90th Field Company. He was sent for training at the Royal Engineers Field Unit depot in Aldershot, where he spent the remaining few months of his life.
The Fifeshire Advertiser reported that Peter died as a result of a kick to the head from a horse, however the Fife Free Press printed that he had succumbed to a fever, which in actuality was closer to the truth. Peter had contracted Cerebro Spinal Fever (meningitis) and was sent to the Isolation Hospital in Aldershot for treatment. Tragically he didn’t respond to the medication and died on the 7 June 1915. His family claimed Peter’s body and took him by train back to Scotland, where he was buried in the Burntisland Cemetery.