On 8 October 1918 near Cambrai, the Third and Fourth Allied Armies attacked along a seventeen-mile front that ran southwards from the southern outskirts of the town and connected at the far end with French and American forces who were advancing east of the Meuse and in Champagne. As part of the New Zealand Division, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade were tasked with establishing themselves north of the village of Esnes on the Esnes—La Targette Road. In their ranks was a young farmer from Ryal Bush named David Blyth Wishart. As part of ‘D’ Company David would face stiff resistance during the battle from both machine guns and also two tanks that had been captured and repaired by the Germans and brought back into action against their former owners. The day would draw to a close with David evacuated to the nearest casualty clearing station suffering from gunshot wounds in his left thigh – ending three months at the front and ensuring a ticket home.
David’s father, also named David, left Scotland with his parents for Australia in 1881 (see cousin 1956 L/Cpl Charles Wishart) and eventually settled in Ryal Bush with his wife, Mary Ann Smaile Forbes. David Jnr. was born on 28 March 1897 the third of eight children. He attended Ryal Bush school and then Southland Technical College, after which he worked on his father’s farm. Before the war, as part of his compulsory military training, David served time with the 8th (Southland Rifles) Regiment and eventually volunteered for the 33rd Reinforcements in Winton on 16 July 1917. He was posted to ‘B’ Company for training at Trentham on 17 September but transferred to ‘D’ Company, 34th Reinforcements almost four months later on 25 January 1918.
Rifleman Wishart embarked in Wellington on board the Ulimaroa on 8 February 1918 and sailed for England, where he arrived in Liverpool on 29 March. Home for the next six weeks was at Brocton which was the New Zealand Rifle Brigade camp situated on the northern edge of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. David was assigned to the Reserve Battalion and would eventually leave for France on 15 May where he would be processed at the New Zealand Base Depot in Etaples before being posted to his unit, which he joined in the field on 6 July. At the time the 2nd Battalion was based southeast of Arras, and it seems likely David went into action for the first time towards the end of August at Bapaume and would see regular fighting up until he was wounded at the 2nd Battle of Cambrai on 8 October.
On the day he was shot David was evacuated to No.4 Casualty Clearing Station, which was based at Beaulencourt, before being transferred to No.22 General Hospital at Camiers two days later. On 14 October he returned to England, and at the time the Armistice began on 11 November, David was based in a convalescence hospital in Hornchurch.
With the war now over, David left England from Liverpool for New Zealand on board the Tahiti on 3 December. After two months at sea, he arrived in Wellington on 27 January 1919 and returned to Ryal Bush where he went back to farming and lived up until a year before he died.
In 1930 David married Margaret Jane Hamilton with four daughters born of the union between 1931 and 1940. Two years later his name was included in the ballot lists, (or notices) for men eligible to be called up under the National Service Emergency Regulations Act for Service with the Territorial Force. Unfortunately, no further details are currently known as to David’s WW2 service – if any.
David died on 16 January 1975 in the coastal town of Riverton.