Killed: the Battle of Jutland
Regiment: Royal Marine Light Infantry
Ship: HMS “Black Prince”
Service Number: PO/17710
Date of Death: 31st May 1916
Age when killed: 19
Memorial: Portsmouth Naval Memorial (22)
Born: Burrough-on-the-Hill, 1897
Parents: William & Violet Annie Pick of Hoby
Walter was born at Burrough on the Hill in 1897 and was the son of William and Violet Annie Pick. Walter was a butcher before he enlisted into the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 8th September 1914. Walter’s war record states he was 5 ft. 7 3/8th inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and a large birthmark on his left cheek. He joined HMS Black Prince on 15th April 1915 and was killed when the ship went down on 31st May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland.
For a number of years the exact circumstances of how the Black Prince sank were not known. During the Battle the First Cruiser Squadron, of which the Black Prince was part, was deployed as a screening force several miles ahead of the main force of the Grand Fleet. The Black Prince lost contact with the rest of the Squadron as it came into contact with the German fleet and the British did not see how the ship was destroyed.
According to German accounts, Black Prince briefly engaged the German battleship Rheinland, scoring two hits with six inch shells. However, about midnight, being separated from the British fleet it approached the German lines, no doubt thinking they were the British Squadron. Realising its mistake Black Prince turned away, but it was too late. The German battleship Thuringen fixed the Black Prince in her searchlights and opened fire. Up to five other German ships, including the battleships Nassau, Ostfriesland and Friedrich der Grosse, joined in the bombardment, with return fire from the Black Prince being ineffective. HMS Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones at effectively point blank range, sinking within fifteen minutes. The wreck is designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
Walter is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
He was aged 19 when he died. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. A note on Walters’s service record states that a war gratuity of £9.10 was paid to his next of kin.