Killed in action shortly after midnight is K/17615 Sto. Henry Albert Wishart from Newcastle, who was on board HMS Black Prince. The day before the cruiser, which was part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, had taken up a scouting position on the Grand Fleet’s right wing, and was one of the first to sight the German High Seas Fleet. During the afternoon’s action on the 31st, which became known as the Battle of Jutland, the ship became separated from the rest of the fleet and was not seen again, with its fate remaining unknown until after the war.
It later transpired that the Black Prince managed to find herself sailing right into the centre of the High Seas Fleet very shortly after midnight on 1 June, and was quickly picked out by searchlights and fired on at short range by the German battleships. Within minutes she was on fire from end to end and subsequently exploded at 12:10am. Along with Henry, 37 officers, 814 other men and 5 civilians were killed.
An eyewitness account from a member of crew on board HMS Spitfire reported:
We were just recovering from our ramming match with the German cruiser, and most of the ship’s company were collected aft, when suddenly there was a cry from nearly a dozen people at once: “Look out!”
I looked up, and saw a few hundred yards away on our starboard quarter, what appeared to be a battle cruiser on fire, steering straight for our stern. To our intense relief, she missed our stern but just by a few feet; so close was she to us that we were actually under her guns, which were trained out on her starboard beam, She tore past us with a roar, rather like a motor roaring up a hill in low gear, and the very crackling and heat of the flames could be heard and felt. She was a mass of fire from fore-mast to main-mast, on deck and between decks. Flames were issuing out of her from every corner. At first sight she appeared to be a battle cruiser, as her funnels were so far apart but afterwards it transpired that she was the unfortunate Black Prince with her two centre funnels gone. Soon afterwards, soon after midnight, there came an explosion from the direction in which she had disappeared.
Henry’s body was never recovered and he was commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial in Hampshire, England. He was the younger brother of William James Wishart, a private in the Dorsetshire Regiment who lost his life in April 1918. Henry and William are part of Wishart Tree 159.
Enlisting in Russell, manitoba today is 18-year-old local labourer, George William Wishart.