Donald Fisher Wishart was born on 21 June 1895 in the Kelvin district of Glasgow. He was the third of nine children of John Wishart, a ships draftsman from Dumbarton, and his wife Helen Fisher. In 1901 the family lived at Cyprus Place, Old Kilpatrick and ten years later, while living in Northeast England, Donald’s father spent time in prison in Jarrow for drunk and disorderly behaviour. In 1912, whilst he was in charge of the Scientific Department of Beardmore Shipyard in Dalmuir, John decided that perhaps his family’s future lay overseas in America and left on board the steamship Parisian from Glasgow on 10 May bound for Boston. It was not unusual for the head of the family to sail ahead of his wife and children, and on arrival, John took up a position at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. By then young Donald had found work as a ship’s draughtsman, and eventually joined his father in America in 1913 when he left Glasgow for Boston on board the steamship SS Numidian on 23 May.
At the time the war in Europe began Donald’s family were living in Maine, however, with America refraining from joining the conflict until 1917, and Donald obviously filled with patriotic zeal for his homeland, he made the decision to cross the border into Canada where he enlisted in Montreal on 17 February 1916. The same day, in a medical inspection, Donald was recorded as being 5′ 7 1/2″ in height with fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was passed fit for service and joined the 148th Battalion, CEF – an infantry unit based in the city that had begun recruiting in late 1915. Seven months after he enlisted, Donald left with the battalion for England and sailed from Halifax on board the RMS Laconia on 27 September – arriving in Liverpool on 6 October.
Donald spent about two months training at Witley Camp in Surrey before receiving orders to proceed to France on 5 December. On arrival at the Canadian Base Depot two days later he was drafted with 129 other men from the 148th into the 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles) and immediately left to join his new unit in the field. The battalion formed part of the 5th Infantry Brigade in the 2nd Canadian Division and had been fighting in France since September 1915. Donald was taken on strength near the town of Angres on 18 December, however, within a month he returned to the Base Depot and was temporarily attached to the 2nd Canadian Engineers Brigade before making his way back to the 24th towards the end of February 1917.
In April 1917 Donald took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which was part of the Battle of Arras, and primarily involved men from the Canadian Corps who faced the German Sixth Army. The 24th went into action on the 9th with Donald likely in the thick of the fighting over the next few days. Three days into the battle, and clearly having witnessed an unimaginable amount of carnage, Donald was taken from the trenches and admitted to No.18 Casualty Clearing Station before being sent down the line to No.4 Stationary Hospital in Arques with an ‘NYD’ (not yet diagnosed) condition. A week later, he was transferred to No.10 Stationary Hospital at St. Omer where it was deemed he was suffering from shell shock and found himself treated for neurasthenia (shell shock) and a bout of trench fever until July when he briefly returned to the Canadian Base Depot.
After almost seven months in and out of No.7 General Hospital in Etaples, Donald was eventually passed fit for active duty and rejoined his unit at a camp near Neuville-St Vaast on 17 November. A month later, while in support trenches at Merricourt, Donald was granted two-weeks leave to the UK, and shortly after returning to the front, was awarded a good conduct stripe.
On 26 June 1918, Donald made his way back to England to attend cadet school with the view to obtaining a commission in the RAF. The application does not appear to have been successful, and he was returned to the Quebec Regimental Depot in Bramshott and attached to the 23rd Reserve Battalion before being sent back to France to rejoin the 24th near the village of Croisilles on 5 September. On arrival, Donald was awarded the rank of corporal and would have taken part in a number of actions that would form part of the Hundred Days Offensive including the Battle of Canal du Nord, Second Battle of Cambrai and the Pursuit to Mons.
Following the Armistice, Donald was promoted to sergeant and returned to Witley Camp in England with his unit on 17 April 1919. His war came to an end the next month when the battalion sailed from Canada on 10 May and he was demobilised in Montreal nine days later.
After the war, Donald returned to his parent’s house in Bath, Maine and went to work as a draftsman in the shipyard. On 28 December 1921, he married a local clerk named Mildred Duley in Bath and a son named after his father was born in 1930, by which time the couple had moved back to Quincy and Donald had found work as a civil engineer in Boston.
Donald returned to the UK a number of times throughout his life, almost always on business, and died aged 71 on 29 January 1967 in Braintree, Massachusetts. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Bath, Maine.