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Remembered Today:

H.M.S. Natal, Cromarty Firth, 30th December 1915.


high wood
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In remembrance of those members of the crew of H.M.S. Natal that lost their lives in the cold, dark waters of the Cromarty Firth ninety nine years ago today.

Particularly, J/4366 Leading Seaman Thomas William Jervis.

May they rest in peace. :poppy:

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Remembered.

Also Mechanician Benjamin Weatherall RN, born Preston, resident Holyhead Anglesey, who was killed aged 36 and is buried at Rosskeen nr Invergordon.

Clive

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Yes - I come from Cromarty and grew up with the stories and various theories of it's demise. A friend of mine travels to Switzerland each year to visit the grand daughter of the Captain of the Natal. He also has a coffee table made from an artifact from the ship.

Hazel

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Hazel,

I have visited Cromarty several times to visit my uncle's grave. He is in the Old Gaelic Cemetery with a few of his shipmates. Others are at Invergordon but the majority were never recovered. I met with Captain Back's son several times, once at his home in Salisbury and once when we were setting up the memorial plaque at Invergordon Life Boat Station. That was about 20 years ago now and he has since passed on. He had a distinguished Naval career himself and fought at the Battle of the River Plate.

Simon

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Oddly enough, when I was home in the spring, a friend (whom I met through the Forum) came and spent a few days with me and we spent quite a bit of time in that graveyard. i remember seeing Thomas Jervis' grave I think. Anyway, my friend took photos of all the WW1 graves, so will ask her if she has one of your uncle's. I must have been a very odd child, as I remember going round all those grave stones with a like minded school friend, writing down the names and dates of death during the school holidays!!!!!!!

Hazel

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Hazel,

thank you for your kind offer but I have several photographs of the grave. It now has a standard CWGC headstone but it used to have a concrete Gaelic cross with a brass name plate. There are several pre 1914 headstones with similar crosses or at least there were during my last visit.

Do you know if the plaque still exists at the lifeboat station?

Simon,

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Not sure about that, but next week I will be talking to Eric Malcolm, who is friends with the Captain's grand daughter, and will ask him. He has written a few small books on the local history and has an absolute wealth of information. He returned to Cromarty when he retired, and over the years, gave a series of talks on old Cromarty. I have his original notes for the talks, because he sent them out here for my Uncle to check, before he delivered them. Will ask him if he did any on the Natal and will dig them out if he did.. In any case, I suspect that either he or his father, who was the local headmaster, must have been around when the salvage was done as he has some significant artifacts.

Happy New Year!

Hazel

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John Berkeley Murray was the Navigation Officer aboard HMS Natal and was killed in the incident. His brother, Henry Berkely Murray was killed on 18th July 1916 at Longueval with the 10th Argylls - an old boy of the King's School, Gloucester.

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Looks like his body was never found since he is commemorated in Chatham? Several of the bodies were buried in the Cromarty Cemetery but some were buried in Invergordon. Possibly where they came ashore. Cromarty seems to be the final resting place of a few victims of drowning in the firth.

H.C.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems the plaque is still at the Invergordon Life Boat Station. There is a more recent one though, just on the Cromarty side of Jemimaville where there are parking spaces. It is about opposite to where the Natal sunk. Talked to Eric this morning but didn't have much time to talk about the Natal as there are phone issues over there because of the gales.

Hazel

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Hi, my husband and i quite often stop off at Rosskeen on our way up to Wick ,he took pictures of all the WW1 headstones but we were not aware there is a Gaelic cemetery in Cromarty as well where about is it.Is it close to the big cemetery in Cromarty . ?

Mary.

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Remembering Walter Edward Giles, Boy I, HMS Natal - Newbury's youngest casualty of the war, aged 16.

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Hi, my husband and i quite often stop off at Rosskeen on our way up to Wick ,he took pictures of all the WW1 headstones but we were not aware there is a Gaelic cemetery in Cromarty as well where about is it.Is it close to the big cemetery in Cromarty . ?

Mary.

Hi Mary,

I am not sure what you mean by the "Big" Cemetery. The one we have been talking about is the one one the hill, (top of The Denny) where the ruins of the Gaelic chapel are, part of which is still used. The old part, next to Hugh Millers statue, is where the WW1 graves are.

Hazel

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Hi Hazel ,we stumbled across the Cromarty cemetery last year by chance ,i remember the Hugh Miller statue and driving down a very steep hill to the shore ,so the Gaelic chapel is close by,i thought it was maybe in a different area.

Mary.

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The cemetery consists of about three sections,leading off one another, with the ruins in the middle. The oldest part is next to the statue. The other cemetery, where my great grandparents are buried, is the East Church Cemetery ,on Church St. which dates from medieval times.

Hazel

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Remembered.

Also Mechanician Benjamin Weatherall RN, born Preston, resident Holyhead Anglesey, who was killed aged 36 and is buried at Rosskeen nr Invergordon.

Clive

I have unearthed this photograph of his grave which I took many years ago.

I also have the following from the Holyhead Mail and Angelsey Herald of 7th January 1916. We regret to announce that amongst the victims of the H.M.S. Natal disaster there is a Holyhead man, Mr Benjamin Weatherall. Mechanic. Mr Weatherall was 34 years of age. Eight years ago he married the daughter of the late Mr Carter, and grand daughter of the late Mr Harry Williams, builder, of this town, and resided at 3 Cleveland Avenue. He leaves a wife and two children aged five and three years respectively. He was at home on leave three weeks ago. The internment took place on Tuesday last. Mrs Carter and Mrs Weatherall attended the funeral.

post-6480-0-83264000-1421586358_thumb.jp

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There appears to be almost an equal amount buried in each cemetery my husband has 9 photo's of men in Rosskeen and 8 in Cromarty,plus 1 man away down in Airdrie.

Mary.

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  • 3 months later...

There are plans for a commemoration in Cromarty on 30th September 2015.

30 September 2015
Starts: 17:30

The Community Council has got together with Cromarty Arts Trust and the Courthouse Museum to commemorate the sinking of HMS Natal in the Cromarty Firth at the end of 1915. A ceremony is being planned for Wednesday, 30 September (the 110th anniversary of the ship’s launch) which will feature a marching band from the Royal Marines and the unveiling by the grand-daughter of the ship’s captain of a memorial panel down by the harbour. Things are still at the planning stage, and more details will follow, but you should put the date in your diary now — 30September around 5.30pm down at the harbour.

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I personally think that the 30th December 2015 would be a better date for the commemoration as it will mark the centenary of the sinking.

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High Wood,

Thanks for posting that information on Weatherall - I somehow missed it in January!

He was born Emmanuel, Preston October 1879 and was a fireman or furnace stoker at a mill. He joined the RN in 1902 as a Stoker.. Served in quite a few ships and shore establishments, and joined Natal in November 1912. Stoker Petty Officer 1908, Mechanician 1912 (this was a Sto.PO rating who was qualified to take over the running of a boiler room or engine room - there were 3 such aboard the Natal). Married 1908, two sons. His term of service 12 years was up on 20 August 1914 but he re-engaged for the Duration.

Clive

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  • 1 month later...

If anyone is interested, there are to be a number of "Natal" based programs and an exhibition of artifacts over the summer in Cromarty and Invergordon. All this will culminate with the unveiling of a Plaque on September 30th, which was the date she was launched. (I think) They did want to do it on 30th December but decided that getting everyone involved to Cromarty at that time of year was problematical. The information will likely turn up on the Cromarty website if it isn't already there.

Hazel

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thanks Simon - will let them know.

Hazel

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