S/28786 Pte. David Wishart (1871 – 1940)

Tree: WIS0028

David Wishart was born on 13 August 1871 in Milton of Balgonie, Fife the seventh of eight children of David Wishart, a carter from Abbotshall, and his wife, Janet Fowlis. By the time David was nine, the family had moved to Cabbagehall in Leslie with young David finding work in the local coal mine as soon as he was old enough.

On 31 December 1894, David married a lass from Leslie named Isabella Murdoch in Glasgow and two children, a daughter and a son, were subsequently born in 1897 and 1900 respectively. In 1901 the family lived in Kinglassie but by 1911 had moved back to Isabella’s birthplace, and were living in the village at one of the stone terraced houses on Mansfield.

Following the outbreak of war with Germany in August 1914, David enlisted on 13 October and joined the 10th Black Watch. Unfortunately his service papers have not survived, however, based on various fragments of evidence that have, it is known that after spending time training in England the battalion was ready to proceed overseas in September 1915 and landed in Boulogne, France on the 20th. David was among them and would have initially been based with his unit, who formed part of the 77th Brigade in the 26th Division, near Amiens shortly after arrival.

The battalion rotated in and out of the trenches along the Western Front until November when they received orders to move south to Marseilles, and proceed with the Division to Salonika which was reached on the 24th. The Salonika campaign remains one of the least well-known ‘sideshows’ of the war even though it lasted almost three years – unlike Gallipoli, which at nine months long, is far more familiar. Geographically the area was known as Macedonia and as part of the old Ottoman Empire, was coveted by Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 had torn the region apart and ultimately left Bulgaria wanting to recover its lost territory. The French and British chose to involve themselves in Salonika to aid the embattled Serbians who were fighting the Central Powers (which included the Bulgarians), and convince the Greeks and Romanians to join the war. In the event, they arrived too late to help the Serbs, who capitulated a month after they arrived and by the middle of the month had retreated back into Greece. During 1916 the 10th Black Watch saw action at Horseshoe Hill and then in the First Battle of Doiran in 1917. It is not known what part, if any, David played in these two battles, however, evidence suggests that he was not a healthy man and at some point found himself sent back to the UK suffering from pleurisy, and eventually a collapsed lung.

On arrival, and following treatment, David was transferred into the 1st Cameron Highlanders but discharged from service from the regimental depot in Inverness on 19 September 1917 and sent into Class P of the Reserve, which meant that although still receiving money from the Army, his services were deemed of more value to the country as a civilian rather than in the military. He was just over 46-years-old and approaching the upper age limit of men serving with the British Forces although tellingly his age on the Silver War Badge Roll records him as being 36, so it seems probable he lied about his age when he enlisted.

David returned to Fife, but by the early 1920s, he had moved with his family to Glasgow; living at 204 Thistle Street and then latterly at 16 Richmond Avenue by 1940, which was south of the city in Clarkston, Renfrewshire. He likely worked in one of the local mines until retirement and died of heart disease at his home on 17 February 1940.

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