Joseph Wishart was born on 28 April 1891 at 15 King Street in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. He was the only child of James Wishart, a local carter, and his wife, Isabella Massie. In 1894 when Joseph was three his mother died of tuberculosis, a condition she had been suffering with for almost eighteen months.
Two years later James remarried to a widow named Elizabeth Farquharson, and in addition to gaining three step-siblings, Joseph would eventually become the half-brother to three brothers and two sisters. In 1901 the family were living at 6 Menzies Road in Aberdeen and had moved to 110 Gerrard Street ten years later. After leaving school Joseph worked as a carter for the railway company and based on his Army service number, it seems likely that he enlisted with the local Territorial Artillery in Aberdeen during August 1908.
In May 1913 Joseph got into trouble when he assaulted two police officers who had apprehended a friend and was ordered to pay a £2 fine or serve twenty days in prison for the offence. Seemingly he kicked the officers several times, and as a result, a large crowd gathered and were said have become ‘greatly excited’.
When war with Germany was declared on 4 August 1914, all territorial troops received orders to mobilise, including Joseph, who was working at the time as a driver for Wordie and Company, collecting fish from the fish-curers and delivering it to the railway for transportation to the markets.
He made his way to the 6th Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery who were headquartered in Ireland, and was probably one of 74 other reservists who arrived from Glasgow at the 2nd Section base in Cahir (west of Waterford) on 8 August. The commanding officer of the column appears to have had little regard for the new arrivals describing the special reservists as ‘unsatisfactory’ and the NCO’s ‘useless as such’ with the regular reservists ‘having no respect for their superiors, which was deemed bad for discipline’.
Joseph left Cahir for Dublin on 20 August and boarded a boat for Holyhead where he entrained for Cambridge. On arrival, his section camped on the polo ground and spent two weeks training before leaving for Southampton. Joseph left for France during the evening of 9 September on board the SS Rowan and reached St. Nazaire two days later. The column then travelled by train, and then on foot to the British front line, which was concentrated along the Aisne Valley.
At the end of September, the 6th DAC was based in the Army Reserve south of the Aisne around Jouaignes and provided support for the divisional artillery brigades who had been engaging the enemy further north. By the end of the year they had reached Bac-Saint-Maur and after several months stationed near the village of L’Epinette in the first months of 1915, marched into Flanders with the column at the end of May and took up a position on the Ypres salient, where Joseph would have likely seen action at Hooge during August.
On 25 October, while situated north of Poperinge near Peselhoek, Joseph was working under a wall when a shell exploded above, causing the wall to collapse and bury him. Still conscious, he was pulled out from under the rubble but died of his wounds in the dressing station later that day. Major A. S. Barnwall, commanding officer of the 5th Section, 6th DAC wrote that Joseph was: “an honest, hard-working man, always cheery and bright, and beloved by his comrades.”
Joseph is buried in the Hop Store Cemetery, west of Ypres (Plot I. Row E Grave 30.) and also commemorated on the Aberdeen city war memorial.