December 31. Internal explosion sinks HMS Natal. Roll of Honour

During the afternoon of the 30th December 1915, HMS Natal, under the command of Captain Eric Back, blew up at anchor with a great loss of life. Nine men and boy sailors from Northern Ireland included Boy Sailor Robert Woodney from Belfast, Nat Taylor who had links with RBAI and a Banbridge Masonic Lodge, and John Stratton who is named on Portadown WM. Thomas Newell from Belfast was one of two brothers to die in RN war service. On 31/12/1918 in an aeroplane crash at Turnberry, Scotland, James Milliken of Ballyclare and Carrickfergus died serving with the Royal Flying Corps. Robert Dempsey from Ballymena is remembered at Kranji Cemetery Singapore (1939), and Gunner Thomas McConnell from Londonderry is commemorated at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. Thailand (1944). Today’s Veterans’ Roll names eight men from NI who served in HMS Natal in WW1 before her tragic end. They are from Belfast, Holywood, Lisburn, and Portrush.

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