820048 Gnr Gilbert Wishart (1894 – 1929)
Gilbert Wishart was born in Leith on 2 March 1894. He was the eldest of four children of James Fraser Wishart, an unemployed mariner from Northmavine, and his wife, Christine Clark. By 1900 the family had moved to Galashiels where James had found work as a woollen warehouseman, however, in 1907 they moved to Grimsby. Gilbert and younger brother Magnus were enrolled at St John’s Boys School where Gilbert studied until 28 February 1908 – after which he began work as a fish curer.
On 10 May 1910, Gilbert enlisted in Grimsby with the 1st North Midland Brigade, RFA, a territorial unit formed in 1908 from the 1st Lincolnshire RGA and joined the Ammunition Column. He enlisted for four years service but extended for a further year on 10 May 1914. Following the outbreak of war three months later, Gilbert received orders to mobilise on 4 August and like the majority of men in his brigade, immediately volunteered for overseas service. He went into training at Luton, where the 46th (North Midland) Division concentrated, before moving on to the village of Stansted on the Hertfordshire/Essex border. During the night of 24/25 February 1915, the Brigade boarded a train at Bishops Stortford for Southampton where they embarked for France – arriving in Le Havre on the 26th. Gilbert didn’t leave until 4 March and disembarked in France two days later with the last section of the Ammunition Column. Over the next few months, Gilbert’s unit provided support for the infantry along the Ypres Salient and moved back into France at the start of October to assist in what would become the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. On 28 November Gilbert was promoted in the field to the rank of corporal and given his first leave to England on 5 January 1916.
At the start of May, the 46th Division began preparations for the big summer offensive in the Somme region and on the 27th Gilbert was assigned to Section 1 of the 46th Divisional Ammunition Column, which absorbed the various artillery brigade ammunition columns. On 1 July 1916, Gilbert was likely present at the attack at Gommecourt, which was a diversionary tactic to protect the northern flank of the main assault by the British Fourth Army at the Somme.
In March 1917 the Division took part in the operations on the Ancre during which time Gilbert reverted to the rank of gunner at his own request. On 6 July he was attached to the 231st (2nd North Midland) Brigade, RFA and posted to D Battery in the Lens Sector on 5 August. At the time the battery, which consisted of four 4.5″ howitzer field guns, was based near Mazingarbe and formed part of the Hulluch Group of batteries. At the end of February 1918, the brigade moved away from Lens and in early March the battery was positioned south of the La Bassée Canal near Cuinchy. A return to the Lens Sector (near Liévin) at the end of the month preceded a lengthy spell at Beuvry until early September. By then the war had entered its final stages and trench warfare had now become mobile warfare, consequently, the artillery now found itself changing position far more regularly than they had since arriving in France. At the end of September, the 231st took part in the Battle of the St Quentin canal and subsequent breaking of the Hindenberg Line. Gilbert’s unit was frequently brought into action right up until just before the Armistice, although, between 15 and 29 October, he was away on two-weeks leave back to the UK. Following the cessation of hostilities, Gilbert was based at Landrecies and was sent back to England for demobilisation on 10 February 1919. He was discharged from duty on 12 March and returned to his wife, who he married in 1913, and young son in Grimsby.
After the war, Gilbert lived at 47 Fairmont Road and continued working in the fish industry as a curer and splitter. He died of lung complications on 16 July 1929 which may have been attributed to suffering the effects of enemy gas poisoning during his time at the front, although surviving service papers make no mention of this. During the Second World War Gilbert’s son (also Gilbert) served with the Lincolnshire Regiment and was present at Dunkirk and then in 1944, the Normandy landings.
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