George Basil Harrison (1882-1915) - Lieut Commander Royal NavyGeorge Basil Harrison, younger brother of Thomas, was born on the 16thOctober 1882 and joined the Royal Navy aged 16 in February 1898.Like his brother he rose steadily through the ranks until he reached the position of Lieutenant Commander in December 1911, although unlike his brother his relationship with strong drink was described as “strictly temperate”! Just before the war he served in the Indian Ocean on the cruisers HMS Terrible and HMS Powerful of the RN Australian Squadron but in April 1912 transferred to HMS Natal serving with the 2ndCruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet. It was in the explosion that sank the Natal on the 30th December 1915 that George lost his life.Much has been written on the loss of the Natal. It was a relatively new ship, only launched in 1907, and had seen no action up to the point when it lay at anchor with the rest of the squadron in the Cromarty Firth at Christmas 1915. The circumstances surrounding it’s loss a few days later have always been the cause of much debate and speculation.What is known is that on the 30thDecember 1915, Captain Eric Back was expecting a quiet day as he had arranged to host film party aboard and had invited his officers’ families and a number of other civilians to attend. However just before 3.30pm the ship was shaken by a series of massive explosions emanating from the rear of the ship. The first thoughts were that Natal had been struck by a torpedo or had hit an undersea mine but subsequent investigations concluded that the accident was the result of internal explosions, probably caused by faulty ammunition.The ship sank quickly and with significant loss of life. The icy waters and darkness of mid-winter would not have helped rescuers and as newly released signal transcripts indicate, the suddenness and completeness of the catastrophe meant that most of the dead were not recovered. The actual number of people on-board that afternoon was not clear but official records listed 390 dead, not including civilians. Today the true number is thought to be closer to 421.The upturned hull of the Natal, surrounded by marker buoys, remained in the Cromarty Firth as both a warning to shipping and a memorial to the dead well into the 1970’s. Warning buoys are still in place today.George has no known grave but may be one of the unknown “Sailors of the Great War” buried in the Gaelic Chapel Churchyard in Cromarty. He is also remembered on a number of memorials, including one in Portsmouth Cathedral.For his service he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory and British War Medals..George’s service record survives and can be found at the National Archives in Kew.