Reginald Alexander Wishart was born on 26 October 1893 in Macorna, Victoria and the first of seven children born to Alexander Wishart and Lilian Peacock.
On 17 April 1916, while working as a farmer, Reginald (or Rex as he was known) visited the recruiting office in Bendigo and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. At the time he was recorded in a medical examination as being 6ft in height with fair complexion and light brown hair and eyes. Except for some dental attention, Rex was considered fit for overseas service and assigned to ‘A’ Coy, 38th Infantry Battalion, AIF.
Along with his cousin Henry Sproule Wishart (a private in ‘C’ Coy) Rex left Melbourne for Plymouth on board the HMAT Runic on 20 June 1916. The official battalion history describes that on departure hundreds of reels of coloured paper ribbon were thrown aboard from the pier and “thousands of flags, scarfs and handkerchiefs gladdened a scene which could so easily have been a sad one”.
They arrived on 10 August and made their way to Larkhill camp on Salisbury Plains for training. On 17 October Rex was admitted to the 10th Brigade Field Hospital in Larkhill suffering from the flu and consequently did not proceed overseas with his unit on 22 November, but instead spent a short amount of time with the 10th Training Battalion. He eventually left for France on the Princess Victoria from Folkestone on 20 December after which he was sent to the 3rd Australian Division Base Depot in Etaples for further training. Within ten days Rex was promoted to acting corporal; however, he reverted to the rank of private on 14 January 1917 when he marched out of Etaples to join the battalion, who were billeted near Armentieres at Houplines.
In mid-February, the 38th were based in the Bois Grenier sector, and at the end of April moved to the Ploegsteert-St. Yves area of Belgium where they formed part of the reserve at Oosthove Farm which was just north of Armentieres. On 13 May they were positioned at Rifle House (near Ploegsteert Wood) and eventually took over the front line nine days later.
At 2 am on 28 May, a raiding party of seven officers and 214 ranks from all companies went over the top and attacked the enemy trenches. Two officers and 28 men were killed or missing in the raid, and a further two officers and 63 men were wounded. Rex was among the latter having been shot in the back by a bullet that penetrated his chest. He was evacuated to No.2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds.
Rex was buried in Trois Arbres Cemetery in Steenwerck, France (grave I. M. 3.) and also commemorated on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Photograph of Reginald Alexander Wishart courtesy of Julie Dworak