Sword belt, cavalry pattern : Captain R Wishart, Johannesburg Mounted Rifles

Place Africa: South Africa
Accession Number REL36082
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Leather
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1900
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Period 1900-1909

Sword belt made of three sections of brown leather joined by large white metal rings (55mm outside diameter) with the leather folded around the rings and proper right side of the buckle stitched down by four rows of stitching. The proper left end of the belt is adjustable with the tapered rectangular safe (tongue) of the belt secured by two folded leather keepers. The belt is fixed with four brass D-rings from which to suspend the slings of a sabretache and the central fastening buckle is fixed with a brass snake headed clasp.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Captain Robert Wishart. Wishart was born in Barry Reef, Victoria on 12 September 1875 and spent his formative years in Allandale. Moving to South Africa around 1898 to work in the Witwatersand goldfields, he enlisted as a private in Bethune's Mounted Infantry on 23 October 1899 soon after the outbreak of the Boer War, one of a number of Australians who joined a unit in South Africa, rather than returning home to enlist.
Seeing service in the battle of Tulgeda Heights and the relief of Ladysmith Wishart was promoted to sergeant before being discharged from his unit on 13 November 1900.

Joining the newly formed Johannesburg Mounted Rifles (JMR) in December Wishart participated in the Battle of Laing's Nek in June 1901 and from July operated as part of a column under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stewart trekking and skirmishing in the east of the Transvaal and near the Zululand border.

In September JMR was operating to the north of the Natal Border and on the 17th was in support of Gough's Mounted Infantry as the former advanced on Blood River. After fierce fighting Gough's force was surrounded and suffered severe casualties with JMR having to fall back to De Jager's Drift. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart was mentioned in despatches for this retreat with his citation stating "Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, in falling back when he did, showed great judgement and a sound appreciation of the situation in a position of considerable difficulty".

In late 1901 and the beginning of 1902 the JMR were chiefly employed in the Ermelo district of the Transvaal. In May 1902 they crossed the Vaal River and participated in skirmishes in the Frankfort district of the Orange River Colony.

By the end of the war Wishart held the rank of captain and had been mentioned in despatches three times and recommended for the Victoria Cross. He believed that the latter was for going to the aid under fire of fellow soldier Private Scott who had been badly wounded. However Wishart was gazetted the Distinguished Service Order on 31 October "In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa."

He commanded the JMR at the Coronation of King Edward VII at Westminster Abbey on 9 August 1902 before joining his cousin in Madagascar as a gold prospector. Contracting malaria from which he never fully recovered, Wishart was judged medically unfit for service at the outbreak of the First World War.

Returning to Johannesburg he married Australian born Edith Carr and the couple moved to a farm at Holmdene near Standerton in the southern Transvaal. They had three children but Wishart never returned to Australia. He died in 1936.