George Beattie White Wishart was born on 27 July 1880 at 26 Reform Street in Montrose. He was the third of seven children of William Wishart, a joiner from Marykirk, and his wife, Magdalene Carnegie White. When George was about three years old, the family moved to Crieff where his father took up the position of railway signalman with the Caledonian Railway and by the late 1890s they lived in a stone-terraced cottage on Meadows Place. After leaving school, George worked as an apprentice grocer, and on 15 February 1899, he enlisted in the town with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and sent to Perth to join the 3rd Battalion. Less than a month would pass before George was discharged by purchase (paying the sum of £1) for an unknown reason, but six months later he re-enlisted in Perth on 9 September. George would eventually find his way into the 1st Black Watch and is likely to have been sent overseas to India before being posted to South Africa towards the end of 1901. The Second Boer War was in its second year, and for his part in the conflict, George was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for service in the Orange Free State and Transvaal.
Unfortunately George’s service papers have not survived; however, he probably returned to Scotland with the Battalion in September 1902. It is unknown exactly when George passed into the Army Reserve – after which he became a postman in Perth. By 1914 he was living just outside Crieff at Rose Cottage in Pittentian, and at some point, he met a domestic servant from Dundee named Marjory Spence.
As a reservist, George would have received immediate orders to mobilise after war with Germany was declared and reported himself to the mobilisation store at Perth. Three days later, knowing he was about to leave for camp in England, George married Marjory in Perth and left to rejoin his unit in Aldershot the following day. The 1st Black Watch left for France on 13 August however George was not among their number, remaining in England until November when he was sent to join them on the 7th, probably arriving his unit in the field near the village of Borre later that month. The battalion, which had recently seen heavy fighting near Ypres, was held in the reserve until late December when they were ordered to move up into the front lines near Givenchy. Much has been written about the conditions men in the trenches had to endure during this period, and like most, George must have faced the challenges of surviving the elements one day at a time.
On 25 January 1915, the Battalion took part in the fighting at Givenchy which may have been George’s first experience of battle. Shortly afterwards a young piper from Burntisland named Andrew Wishart joined the Battalion, and it is possible, on 9 May, George advanced across No Man’s Land accompanied by the sound of Andrew’s pipes at the Battle of Aubers.
Four months later George went into action again at the Battle of Loos and had he taken part, survived the initial assault on 25 September, but was seriously wounded in his left leg during another attack occurring on 13 October. He was eventually returned to Scotland and discharged from the Army on 27 June 1916 having been deemed physically unfit for further service. George underwent treatment for his injuries for a number of years after the war and returned to Perth to work for the postal service until retirement. Marjory died in 1933, and the following year he remarried to Catherine Janet Nicholson.
George and Catherine lived on Perth High Street until George’s death from heart failure at the Royal Infirmary on 27 January 1953. During the war all three of his brothers served overseas, all three survived.