Cromarty in Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom
By 1914, under the command of Captain Eric Percy Coventry Back, HMS Natal was part of the Second Cruiser Squadron based in the Cromarty Firth. Very little happened during 1914 and 1915 except for fleet exercises and a refit in Birkenhead in early 1915.
At 3.25pm on 30th December 1915, the sea was calm and darkness was falling. An emergency message was sent from the Radio Room of HMS Natal to the Flag Officer, Invergordon that the ship was on fire. By 3.30pm she had capsized and her bilge keel was showing above the water.
The cause of the disaster has never been confirmed. Officials initially believed it could be the result of a submarine attack, but it was soon established by divers that it was not caused by enemy action. It is likely that there was a fire
The capsized hull of HMS Natal was sold for scrap during the 1920s and there were many periods during the following five decades when salvage work was carried out. By 1979 the wreck had been demolished to the sea bed and a red wreck buoy was placed at the site. The Natal wreck is a Controlled Site under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
Royal Naval Drill
It is the practice of Royal Naval vessels to sound "Still" when entering and leaving the Cromarty Firth and for officers and men to come to attention as they pass the wreck.
The Cromarty Firth
In the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, the Cromarty Firth was an important Royal Naval base. Many of the ships that fought in the Battle of Jutland in June 1916, sailed from their base in the Firth.
Death and survival
Many of the crew were on shore leave, some involved in a football match in Cromarty. Some of the crew, on board at the time of the explosion, survived.
There were 421 fatal casualties. Eleven of those who lost their lives were guests of Captain Back. He was holding a small party on board to view a cinema film. The party included his own wife, the wives of two senior officers,
A small number of bodies were recovered. These are buried in the Cromarty Cemetery and the Rosskeen Cemetery, Invergordon.
More information about the history of HMS Natal, the disaster, the survivors and the casualties can be found at: www.hmsnatal.co.uk
This panel was dedicated by Mrs. Rosalind Cahill, grand-daughter of Captain Back on 30th September 2015
( photo captions )
- Captain Eric Back with his son Eric in 1912. Captain Back was killed when HMS Natal exploded.
- HMS Natal cutter crew in 1914. It is not known how many of these men were still serving on her when she sank in 1915 - Cromarty Harbour with the Navy fleet c.1905
Topics. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: War, World I • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1916.
Location. 57° 40.991′ N, 4° 2.251′ W. Marker is in Cromarty, Scotland, in Highland. Memorial is at the intersection of Marine Terrace and Bank Street, on the right when traveling north on Marine Terrace. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cromarty, Scotland IV11 8WY, United Kingdom. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 26 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. James Thomson (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); Ardersier War Memorial (approx. 12.8 kilometers away); Nairn Fishwife (approx. 14.6 kilometers away); Royal Visit Glenmorangie Distillery (approx. 16.1 kilometers away); Seaforth Highlanders (approx. 21.9 kilometers away); The Innes (approx. 25 kilometers away); Chapel Yard Cemetery (approx. 25.2 kilometers away).
Also see . . .
1. HMS Natal. (Submitted on December 11, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. HMS Natal on Wikipedia. (Submitted on December 11, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 11, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 98 times since then and 5 times this year. Last updated on January 3, 2019, by T. Patton of Jefferson, Georgia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 11, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.