Robert Wishart was born on 25 January 1883 at Bankhead in Burntisland, Fife. He was the second of five children of Robert Wishart, a distillery carter from Burntisland and his wife, Margaret Ronaldson. By 1891 Robert was living with his family at Kirkton in the parish of Burntisland, and ten years later he got his first job which was at the docks as a capstan worker. On 28 April 1905, he married Jemima Easdale in Burntisland with five children subsequently born of the union between 1905 and 1919.
After the outbreak of war, Robert enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders at Kirkcaldy on 18 November 1914. As he was proficient in playing the bagpipes, Robert was assigned the role of piper and initially assigned to the 3rd Battalion before being transferred to the ‘D’ Company of the 8th Battalion. The 8th had been raised in Aberdeen in August 1914 and formed part of the 26th Brigade, 9th Scottish Division. After a spell stationed at Aldershot, the Gordons moved to Bordon before embarking for Boulogne on 10 May.
Unfortunately, except for a few pages of medical notes, Robert’s service papers have not survived making it hard to say precisely where and when he may have been throughout the war. It seems probable that he was present at the Battle of Loos in September 1915 and also various phases of the Somme campaign in 1916. Evidence that Robert had seen action can be read in the following article from the Fifeshire Advertiser, dated December 9, 1916:
Piper Wishart’s Return. – Piper Robert Wishart is a kindred spirit of Private Ross. He came home on Saturday morning – a good many hours later than was expected – and although his friends were not at the station to meet him, he trudged along the way to the Kirkton with the air of one who delights to give a surprise. Of course, he was recognised, and the road home, although not long, had a good many stops, and he had to undergo a lot of hand-shaking. Robert is one of the sort who is always brimful of spirit. He was delighted to see the old spots again, although he had had his doubts of seeing them. His tales of trench life were told with the same glee as if he had been relating a first-footing expedition. “Look at my gun,” he said, “it’s a beauty, isn’t it, although it’s not mine! My own was lost somewhere, but I picked up another on the field where gallant men had fallen.” “Have the Germans, do you think, lost as heavily in men as has been reported?” “I don’t know what the papers tell you,” he replied, “but I ken this – they can always keep up a darned strong fighting line!” Robert gives nothing away, but he has always had a cheery look and a good-natured smile, and his brief stay has rejoiced the hearts of his friends.
It seems likely that Robert went back to France shortly after the article was written but returned to Scotland on 28 November 1917 when he was admitted to the 4th Scottish General Hospital at Stobhill in Glasgow, suffering from appendicitis. He was a patient for 57 days but returned to hospital on 13 March when was admitted to the 1st Scottish General in Aberdeen suffering from severe polyps in his sinuses. This particular stay lasted 136 days, and Robert was eventually discharged from service on the 31 March 1920.
After the war, Robert worked as a coal tipper and died aged 82 in Burntisland during 1966.