Ross & Cromarty War Memorials

 

HMS Natal Disaster

The disaster occurred on 30th December 1915 when HMS Natal was anchored at Invergordon in the Cromarty Firth. A major event also took place on 30th September 2015 because that was the 110th anniversary of the launching of the ship.

The Captain (Eric Back) had arranged a party/film show to which the wives and children of his officers had been invited. There were also some nurses from the hospital ship DRINA, The record shows that a total of seven wives, three children, and one male were on board; all of them perished. The final total number of dead was 421, and it seems that most of them were not recovered. There were 400 survivors who were on 'shore leave' at the time, some at a football match.

Only 4% of the bodies of those lost were recovered. They were washed up on the north and south sides of the Firth. The 9 found on the north shore were interred at Rosskeen (see 'More Info' at foot), and another 8 on the south shore are interred in Cromarty Cemetery (see 'More Info' at foot); both cemeteries have Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) areas.

A Royal Marines band was on board - all of whom perished; they ae listed here.

Bandmaster E. Schofield
Band Corporal A.J. Beaby
Musicians
H.J. Barrell A.T. Hope, A.J.W. Mahon, F. Moore, G. Robertson, F. Davis, H. King, D. Cambell, C.C. Goodman, W.G. Hendry, J. Whichello, H. Averley
W. Maxwell.

It is surprising that no music has been wrtten to commemorate this tragic event. As there was a bandleader and thirteen bandsmen perhaps the third movement (adagio) from Mozart's Serenade No 10 for Thirteen Wind Instruments (K361) is appropriate - click below to hear (5 mins).


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Investigation showed that the ship was utterly destroyed by internal explosions in one of the magazines, probably of cordite which was known to be unstable.

Those lost have been listed by Don Kindell and a copy may be accessed by clicking here.

Map Reference of HMS Natal position NH 75584 68314 on Sheet 21


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