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The Sinking

Immediate signals following the sinking

Some of the signals sent in the first few hours following the sinking of HMS Natal have been preserved as transcriptions in Invergordon Naval Museum, whose permission to use them is acknowledged.
This is not a complete set of signals but they do convey a sense of urgency throughout the anchorage, port and Admiralty.

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3.25 p.m.
From Natal…..To Flag
Ship on Fire.

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3.29 p.m.
From Flag…..To General
Send fire engines to “Natal” immediately.

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3.30 p.m.
From Shannon…..To Flag
“Natal” has turned over and has bilge keel showing. Tugs are now at her and also boat from Second Cruiser Squadron.

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3.35 p.m.
From Flag…..To General
Out nets.

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3.32 p.m.
From Flag…..To R.A., Invergordon
Send all available tugs and steamboats to “Natal”.

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3.35 p.m.
From Benbow…..To General
Send boats to “Natal”.

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3.45 p.m.
From Blanche…..To Flag
“Natal” sunk.

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3.50 p.m.
No source recorded
“Mindful” and “Oak” proceeding to “Natal”.

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3.55 p.m.
From Flag…..To Mystic
Stand-by destroyers raise steam at once.

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4.01 p.m.
From Flag…..To General
Raise steam for eighteen knots.

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4.01 p.m.
From Flag…..To General
Darken ship immediately.


4.05 p.m.
From Flag…..To Oak
“Oak”, “Mounsey” and “Mindful” to anchor above inner obstruction and keep steam for twenty knots.

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4.30 p.m.
From Flag…..To R.A., Invergordon
If work on bottom of “Conqueror” is finished, I should like the dock lowered.*
(*This is the dry dock at Invergordon.)

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4.54 p.m.
From V.A. 2C.S……To Flag
List of survivors from “Natal” will be forwarded as soon as possible.  Submit a general signal may be made ordering ships with survivors on board to send list to me.

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4.55 p.m.
From Achilles…..To Iron Duke and Benbow
Submit - we have 126 survivors from “Natal” on board, six in cots.

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5.00 p.m.
From Drina…..To Flag
Two officers and 43 men admitted and also one dead.  Request instructions with regard to future movements.

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5.03 p.m.
From Drina…..To Flag
Three Nursing Sisters belonging to “Drina” who were on board “Natal”, are missing.

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5.15 p.m.
From R.A., Invergordon…..to Flag
Submitted – Drifter “Vigilance” has been anchored one cable to northward of wreck, showing wreck lights.

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5.10 p.m.
From Flag…..To S.O. Destroyers
Anchor destroyers as follows:
One in No. 9 berth;
One 180 degrees from No. 9 berth;
Two 360 degrees from No.9 berth;
One in No.4 berth;
One 180 degrees from No. 4 berth;
Two 360 degrees from No. 4 berth;
Three to remain at boom.

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5.38 p.m.
From R.A., Invergordon…..To Flag
Work on bottom of “Conqueror” is not finished, and dock could not be lowered under fourteen hours’ notice unless propellers are left unscrewed, which would involve some risk to dock, and lights would be necessary to replace gear. 
Lights have been extinguished and work outside ship suspended pending further orders.

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No time recorded
From Flag…..To General
Ships having any “Natals” on board are to signal numbers to Flag and Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron at once, and are to forward a nominal list to V.A.2C.S. as soon as possible.

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5.50 p.m.
From R.A., Invergordon…..To Flag
I have ordered dockyard divers to be ready to go down to examine “ Natal” at daylight tomorrow, Friday, but probably they will have to wait until slack water – 11.00 a.m.

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