Lt Gordon Thomas Shepherd Wishart (1884 – 1940)
Gordon Thomas Shepherd Wishart was born shortly after midday on 11 March 1884 at 31 Kinloch Place in Dundee. He was the only child of Thomas Wishart, a cabinetmaker operative from Alyth in Perthshire, and his wife, Jessie Elizabeth Watt Brown.
By the summer of 1885, Gordon had moved with his parents to 83 High Street in Arbroath. Tragedy struck the family on 26 June when his mother died of tuberculosis, having suffered from the disease for about a year.
In 1890 Gordon’s father remarried to Betsy Cairncross Burnett. At the time he was living at 25 Panmure Street, and by 1893 he had become half-brother to two sisters. Gordon did well at school and was given a high school scholarship in 1896, eventually sitting his civil service exams in 1899 and passing them with ease. In early January 1900, he secured his first appointment and made his way to London, where he took up a position as a boy copywriter in the war office.
Gordon enlisted in the military at Edinburgh on 6 April 1908 and joined the 9th (Highlanders) Battalion, The Royal Scots – a local territorial unit headquartered at 89 East Claremont Street. By 1911 he had returned to Arbroath where he found work as an assistant clerk in the sasine office, however, at some point during the next three years, he returned to Edinburgh. In 1914 Gordon lived at 10 Buccleugh Place and was working for the Board of Agriculture when war broke out. As a Territorial, Gordon was immediately mobilised for service and sent for training. On 5 November 1914 he married a nurse named Harriet Daisy Stewart Mawer at St. John’s Church in Pittenweem, Fife, however, their time together would be short-lived.
At 6:30 am on 26 February 1915, 30 officers and 987 other ranks of the 9th Royal Scots arrived in Le Havre from Southampton on board the HMT Inventor. Two weeks later all companies of the battalion had reached Belgium and began a period of instruction in the trenches between the Brasserie and Vierstraat sectors. At the end of March, the 9th were based in Ypres and engaged in digging second-line defence trenches, and following a spell holding the line at Glencourse Wood during the first three weeks of April, found themselves arriving at Potijze Wood in the small hours of the 23rd. The same day they were sent to St. Julien in support of the Canadians, and attacked the Germans north of St. Jean. During the battle, the battalion sustained casualties of 4 officers and 120 other ranks. Gordon was among the 120, suffering a gunshot wound to the head, which thankfully did not prove fatal. He was transferred down the evacuation route for wounded soldiers and sent to a hospital in Rouen to recover.
The next two years of Gordon’s war are currently unknown. It seems likely he rejoined the Royal Scots in France, and on 11 March 1917 was given a commission in the Highland Light Infantry and possibly attached to a Labour Corps Agricultural Company in Lewes, East Sussex later in the year.
During his time in Lewes, Gordon and Harriet had a son named Gordon Thomas Taylor Wishart on 8 December 1917 and then two years later on 26 January 1920, twin boys in Edinburgh named Colin and Graham.
Based on the two fragments of surviving service papers relating to Gordon it appears that he left military service in 1921, having attained the rank of Lieutenant. After the war, he lived for a while at 20 Rosemeath Place in Edinburgh and by 1940, when he was working as a clerical officer for the Department of Agriculture, was resident with his wife and three sons at 22 St Fillans Terrace.
At 5:40 pm on 18 January 1940, while walking near his home along Comiston Drive, Gordon collapsed from a heart attack. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Wishart
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