Henry Albert Wishart was born on 6 December 1893 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. He was the fourth son of Walter Wishart; an engineering works storekeeper and Emma Simms. Prior to Henry’s birth, his father had served in the Royal Artillery as a sergeant both at home and overseas in Nova Scotia and Barbados, and it seems likely Walter met Henry’s mother whilst he was based at the artillery barracks in Woolwich.
Before the war, Henry worked as a bootmaker in a factory and enlisted with the Royal Navy on 4 January 1913 for a period of twelve years.
Stoker 2nd Class No. K/17615 Henry Albert Wishart was sent for training at Victory II in Portsmouth. After service on board several different ships he was eventually assigned to HMS Black Prince on 21 April 1914. In the early days of the war, the ship served with the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet which subsequently joined the Grand Fleet in December 1914.
In May 1916 the 1st Cruiser Squadron was based at Cromarty and made steam on the 30th, joining up with the Grand Fleet (who had sailed from Scapa Flow) the following day. The Black Prince had taken up a scouting position with the rest of the squadron on the Fleet’s right wing and was one of the first to sight the German High Seas Fleet. During the afternoon’s action, which became known as the Battle of Jutland, the Black Prince 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 12:10 am. Along with Henry, 37 officers, 814 other men and 5 civilians were killed.
An eyewitness account from a member of the 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 battlecruiser 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 afterward 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 lost at sea and he is 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.