Portadown's Dead from The Great War 1914-18

John W. Stratton

Armourer, Stratton, John W.
HMS Natal, Royal Navy.

who died on
30th December 1915

Additional Information:
Son of William and Mary Jane Stratton
of 31 Castle Street, Portadown Co. Armagh

Grave or Reference Panel Number:
Panel 12

On November 22, HMS Natal went into Cammell Laird's Birkenhead shipyard for a fortnight's refit and then she sailed via Scapa Flow to Cromarty Firth where she arrived on December 17, three civilian fitters were still aboard finishing snagging work. Crucially, Natal had also taken on a completely new load of ammunition. The ship's captain, Eric Black, arranged for a film showing and luncheon and had invited a local family who were his friends, as well as three officers' wives plus a party of nurses from the hospital ship Drina that was also anchored in the Firth, seven women and three children in all.

At just after 3.20pm, a huge explosion occurred in the ammunition hold of the ship, setting off fires and other explosions throughout the ship. The first external sign of a problem was a signal sent to the anchored fleet's Flag Officer at 3.25pm saying simply 'Ship on fire'. Within five minutes of the initial explosion, HMS Natal had capsized. Many of the crew, including the captain, his visitors and two of the fitters, perished in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, while others managed to ­survive by swimming away from the sinking ship. A further signal to the Flag Officer from the nearby HMS Blanche timed at 3.45pm said simply: 'Natal sunk.'

HMS Achilles managed to rescue 126 survivors from the bitterly cold sea but a total of 421 officers, crewmen and civilians died in the disaster. Most of those who survived were on deck or at either end of the ship. Divers were sent down to the wreck the following morning and their reports confirmed the account of one of the surviving officers that an internal explosion had destroyed Natal.

The hull of HMS Natal remained above water at low tide and it stayed there for nearly 60 years until the wreck was blown up as it was a hazard in the Cromarty Firth at the time of the oil boom.

from information supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

We make this information freely available to genealogists and Family Historians, but at no time may this information be used on a pay site or sold for profit.

Top of the Page

Back to the top of the page

View our Sitemap Site Map

Home  |   Census |  Griffiths  | Directories  | Gravestones |  Photos  |  Links  | Forum |  History  | Contact Us