M2/150430 Sgt. Thomas Graham Wishart (1871 – 1960)
Thomas Graham Wishart was born on 30 March 1871 in the parish of Airth in Stirlingshire. He was the son of John Wishart, a master gardener from Glasgow and his wife, Elizabeth Henderson. At the time of Thomas’ birth, the family were living at Airth Castle but had moved to Shanwell Mansion House in the parish of Orwell, Kinross ten years later.
In the late 1880s, Thomas and his parents moved again to Kirkton in Largo, Fife where Thomas began a joinery apprenticeship at Straithairly. Although only sixteen years old he had already shown a keen interest in inventing mechanical parts and machinery and exhibited a design for a steam engine at the Dundee Industrial Exhibition during December 1887. In 1890 he patented a design for an improved speed regulating governor attachment for steam engines and in the last decade of the 19th Century set himself up as a bicycle maker and electric bell fitter.
While at Straithairly Thomas met a domestic servant from Gateshead named Sarah Lee. Sarah worked at the Mansion and married Thomas on 7 February 1896 in Glasgow. The couple returned to Largo where they lived on Main Street with their two sons, John and James. In the pre-war years, Thomas established a garage in Upper Largo called the East End Garage where he made his living as a motor engineer and ‘inventor’ – at some point designing and patenting the ‘wizard carburettor’. He took a keen interest in local life and was nominated for the post of Largo parish councillor in 1913.
On 18 November 1915, Thomas made his way to the Dundee recruiting office and enlisted as an electrician in the Army Service Corps. He was sent to the ASC driver training depot at Grove Park, South London before being drafted to the 557 ASC Motor Transport Company in Portishead, Somerset. The 557 had originally been formed in November 1915 as special base depot for the Middle East, however before they departed it was converted to a Royal Garrison Artillery Ammunition Column.
Thomas was promoted to the rank of corporal on 24 February 1916 and embarked for France on 31 March where he arrived in Le Havre the following day. His unit had been assigned to the 68th (Siege) Battery, RGA, however, on 26 April Thomas was transferred to 641 Motor Transport Company, which was an ammunition column for the 57th (Seige) Battery. In addition to his duties as an electrician, it seems likely Thomas would have also been employed as a lorry driver and responsible for hauling the heavy guns and howitzers of the RGA, with attendant equipment and ammunition.
Over the next year, Thomas was transferred to several other Motor Transport companies and promoted to acting sergeant on 28 December 1916 – a rank he held until 22 May 1918 when he became a full sergeant. At the time he was with the 611 MT Coy.
By 21 March 1919, Thomas was stationed with the 2nd Army Seige battery, 625 Motor Transport Company. Following the Armistice, he had become part of the Army of Occupation in Germany and early in 1920 was based in Cologne. It was during this period that he was involved in an accident that ended his military career.
On Sunday 4 July 1920 Thomas was a sidecar passenger in a Douglas Combination motorcycle driven by another sergeant. They had gained a day pass and were on the return journey back towards Heinbach. As the pair passed through Leckenick, they turned a corner, and the sidecar wheel caught in a railway line, tearing it from its axle and overturning the vehicle. Thomas was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a fracture dislocation of the surgical neck and right humerus. Following the accident, Thomas spent almost two months in hospital and eventually discharged on the 31 August, when he proceeded to the Rhine Army Motor Transport Vehicle reception for demobilisation.
After the war Thomas continued to work as an engineer and was preceded in death by his wife, eventually succumbing himself to cancer on the 26 August 1960 while resident at the Kinloch Social Welfare Home in Collessie.
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