The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
30th December 1915On this day:
- Enemy Mine Explosion 6th County of London Brigade RFA at
At 0920 the 16th London Battery fired ten Shrapnel and one H.E. on a dispersed working party at A.29.b.3.5.
From 0955 to 1100 the 17th Battery fired six Shrapnel and eleven H.E. on a working party.
All batteries retaliated on German trenches and Observation Points during the day.
At 1630 the Germans exploded a mine opposite the Quarrie. The batteries of Lowe Group formed a barrage of fire further north.
- 31st December 1915 9th Lancers Billets Reorganised
- HMS Natal was an armoured cruiser of the ‘Warrior’ Class. She had an official complement of 704 officers and men. She escorted the royal yacht in 1911–1912 for the newly crowned King George V's trip to India to attend the Delhi Durbar.
On Thursday December 30th 1915 she was lying in Cromarty harbour near Invergordon, to the North of Inverness. At 3.20 p.m. fire broke out on board. Within about five minutes the ship was torn apart by the explosion of her after magazines and sank almost immediately.
Natal’s crew were all pre-war regulars, reservists or wartime volunteers – conscription wasn’t introduced until two days after she exploded. About half the crew were under 25. Amongst the dead were 33 Royal Naval Reserve Stokers, nearly all from the North East, 14 members of the Royal Naval Volunteer 12 Reserve, 63 Royal Marines, including 15 bandsmen, three nursing sisters of Queen Alexander’s Royal Naval Nursing Service, three canteen staff who worked for the Army & Navy Stores and two Admiralty employed civilian craftsmen.
On 30 December 1915, Natal was lying in the Cromarty Firth with her squadron, under the command of Captain Eric Back. The captain was hosting a film party aboard and had invited the wives and children of his officers, one civilian friend and his family, and nurses from the nearby hospital ship Drina to attend. A total of seven women, one civilian male, and three children were in attendance that afternoon.
Shortly after 1525, and without warning, a series of violent explosions tore through the rear part of the ship. She capsized five minutes later. Some thought that she'd been torpedoed by a German U-boat or detonated a submarine-laid mine, but examination of the wreckage revealed that the explosions were internal. The divers sent to investigate the ship reported that the explosions began in either the rear 9.2-inch shellroom or the 3-pounder and small arms magazine. The Admiralty court-martial in the causes of her loss concluded that it was caused by an internal ammunition explosion, possibly due to faulty cordite. The Admiralty issued a revised list of the dead and missing that totaled 390 in January 1916, but did not list the women and children on board that day.
With her hull still visible at low water, it was Royal Navy practice on entering and leaving Cromarty right up to the Second World War for every warship to sound “Still”, and for officers and men to come to attention as they passed the wreck. After numerous attempts, much of the ship was salvaged. The remainder was blown up in the 1970s to level the wreck so that it would not be a hazard to navigation.
- RMT Persia lost off Crete The Persia was sunk off Crete, while the passengers were having lunch, on 30 December 1915, by German World War I U-Boat ace Max Valentiner (commanding SM U-38). The Persia sank in five to ten minutes, killing 343 of the 519 aboard. The sinking was highly controversial, since it broke naval international law, or the "Cruiser Rules", which stated that merchant ships could be stopped and searched for contraband, but could only be sunk if the passengers and crew were put in a place of safety (for which, lifeboats on the open sea were not sufficient). Instead, the U-Boat fired a torpedo with no warning, and made no provision for any survivors. This action took place under Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, but broke the Imperial German Navy’s own restriction on attacking passenger liners, the Arabic pledge.
- 30th Dec 1915 Late Christmas Dinner
- 30th Dec 1915 Liner Sunk
- 30th Dec 1915 Row Continues
- 30th Dec 1915 Visiting Sailors in Action
- 30th Dec 1915 Sentry Killed
- 30th Dec 1915 Trench Work
- 30th Dec 1915 Working Parties
- 30th Dec 1915 Baggage
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