Commemoration of the sinking of HMS Natal

Commemoration of the sinking of HMS Natal

- 17/10/2015

On Wednesday 30 September, in perfect weather conditions, Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant of Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh, was present at two ceremonies to remember the sinking of HMS Natal on 30 December 1915, one in Invergordon and one in Cromarty. Because of the risk of adverse weather on 30 December it had been decided to have the commemoration on the anniversary of the commissioning of HMS Natal.

HMS Natal sank very quickly after a huge explosion believed to have been caused by unstable cordite with a huge loss of life only mitigated by a significant numbers of the crew being ashore. On the other hand a number of civilians were being entertained by the Captain on board.

HMS Natal is now a war grave, marked by the Natal buoy.

Although the Captain's wife was aboard his very young children, ill with flu, were ashore and one of them , Diana, is alive today and celebrated her 101st birthday on 30 September 2015 at her home in Switzerland.

HMS Natal is so called because she was paid for by the citizens of that province of South Africa.

Events at Invergordon centred on a church service, attended by the military attaché from the South African High Commission, a visit to the museum to see the Natal exhibits followed by embarking to lay wreaths at the war grave site.

Cromarty had also attended the wreath laying ceremony but continued their commemoration by attending the graves of the Natal dead, such as there are, in the Cromarty Cemetery, and a march past by the band of the Royal Marines at the Harbour.

A plaque was unveiled overlooking the Harbour. Mrs Cahill, Captain Black’s granddaughter , thanked the people of Cromarty and Invergordon for the day of commemorations and for keeping the memory of HMS Natal alive and Sylvie Johannot read out a letter of greetings from Diana Black.

The attached photographs which have been contributed by the two communities are of both commemorations.

Image galleries for Commemoration of the sinking of HMS Natal

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