100 years on, German assault on east coast is remembered

COMMEMORATIONS have been taking place in towns on East Coast 100 years after they were devastated by a German bombardment.

The Commemoration Society 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at the plaque in Hartlepool

Scarborough, together with Hartlepool and Whitby, remembered the devastating World War One attacks which left 122 dead and hundreds others injured.

In Scarborough, commemorations began with a civic ceremony at 7.55am, just before the time German warships slipped through the mist to unleash their deadly torrent of shells.

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Scarborough Castle, the prominent Grand Hotel, three churches and other properties were hit in the half an hour attack.

The Commemoration Society 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at the plaque in Hartlepool

The story of the bombardment was read out at the Town Hall gardens and school children from Gladstone Road Primary School, which also suffered significant damage during the raid, attached 18 handmade poppies, one to mark each loss of life, to a new commemorative bench.

A maroon was fired from Scarborough Castle after the name of each of the victims was read out and a flotilla of boats, organised by the RNLI and Scarborough Yacht Club, was stationed outside the harbour.

Another service was held at St Mary’s Church, where wreaths were laid by guests from Germany: Dr Jann M Witt, from Deutscher Marinebund, the German Naval Association, and Commander Jan Hackstein, German Attache, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Wreaths were also laid in memory of the 100 civilian mariners who lost their lives as a result of mines laid during the bombardment and at Dean and Manor Road Cemetery where 17 of the victims were buried, many in unmarked graves.

The Commemoration Society 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at the plaque in Hartlepool

As dusk fell the keep of Scarborough Castle was illuminated with a large poppy and later a beacon of light was lit.

In Whitby, which was the next target for attack, a memorial garden was unveiled on the West Cliff, a project four years in the making by Whitby In Bloom, and services held, at the war memorial and St Hilda’s Church.

Hartlepool also organised a day of remembrance and tributes to those who died, including Theo Jones, a soldier of the Durham Light Infantry, the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the War.

Despite the horror the bombardment caused, 22,000 men from the town signed up to fight the Germans and the town went on to raise £545m in modern money towards the war effort, on three occasions winning awards for raising the most money per head of population of any place in the British Empire.

The Commemoration Society 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at the plaque in Hartlepool

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The Commemoration Society 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at the plaque in Hartlepool