The Dods Family

Attribution: Photo copyright S. Fraser

John Henry Dods, Dalgheal, Evanton, his wife Annie Farrer, and their children Dorothy Elizabeth, Marcus Palliser and John Frederick, all of whom perished when HMS Natal exploded in the Cromarty Firth on 30 December 1915.

The Dods family were guests at a party on board the Natal hosted by the commanding officer, Captain Eric Black and his wife and children. Other guests included three nurses from the hospital ship Drina, which was moored nearby.

Entertainment was provided by the Royal Marines band and a film was shown in the wardroom. A huge explosion rocked the ship shortly after 3 pm, causing the heavily armed warship to turn over and sink within five minutes, resulting in 421 deaths. Some 100 members of the crew escaped the explosion due to being ashore at a football match in Cromarty. The cause has never been established, although “faulty cordite” has often been mentioned. A Court of Inquiry ruled out sabotage or enemy action.

The Dods family who were tragically lost on The Natal in December 1915

Attribution: unknown

In subsequent years most of the wreck was salvaged and the final remnants were demolished in the 1970s in order to remove any navigation hazard.

On 30 September 2015 – 110 years since the vessel was launched in Barrow in Furness – a service is to be held in Invergordon parish church, followed by a wreath-laying at the wreck site. In Cromarty there will be a parade of Royal Marines and a memorial plaque will be unveiled at the harbour.

HMS Natal

Attribution: unknown