Centenary cairn remembering the civilians killed in the 1914 shelling of Scarborough (Photo: courtesy of Mark Vesey, Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre)

100 years on: remembering the raids on England's North Sea coast

Posted on centenarynews.com on 11 December 2014
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Commemorations and events are planned over the next week in Scarborough and Hartlepool to mark the 100th anniversary of the bombardments by the Imperial German Navy on December 16th 1914. 

Organisers of Scarborough's remembrance are trying to find any living relatives of the 18 people killed in the First World War attack on the North Sea resort.

The aim is to invite them to the centenary commemorations taking place on December 16th 2014. Search efforts so far have only thrown up leads on descendants of three of the victims.

Acts of remembrance will also be taking place in Hartlepool, which together with Scarborough and Whitby on England's northeast coast, came under fire from German warships in dawn raids 100 years ago. All three towns were caught unprepared.

Almost 140 people were killed, many of them civilians, and hundreds more were wounded in an episode that outraged British public opinion.

In Scarborough, a maroon will be fired from the medieval castle after the names of the town's 18 dead have been read out at a special ceremony organised by Scarborough Borough Council, starting at 7.55am. 

The fortress dominating the cliffs was damaged by the German shelling, along with Whitby Abbey further up the Yorkshire coast. A naval wireless station is thought to have been the main target in Scarborough. There was a signal post in Whitby.

German naval representatives will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony during a commemorative service at St Mary's Church, Scarborough, starting at 11am.

A wreath will also be laid at a newly constructed memorial cairn in Manor Road Cemetery, where 17 of the bombardment victims are buried, many in unmarked graves. The ceremony is at 1.30pm.

Hartlepool remembers

The University of Leeds Legacies of War centenary research project and community groups in Hartlepool have partnered to create 'Hartlepool Remembered: Legacies of the Bombardment 1914' on Thursday, December 11th 2014. 

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this all-day, free event will feature lectures, exhibitions, artworks, poetry and music to commemorate the bombardment of Hartlepool and consider how it helped to shape the development of the town to the present day. 

Remembrance on December 16th will centre on the Heugh Battery Museum, site of the coastal guns which returned fire on the German Navy in 1914. More than 1,100 German shells hit Hartlepool, an industrial and maritime centre, killing 127 people, many of them civilians.

A gun salute will open the commemorations at 8.10am. The names of the 37 children who were among the dead will be read during a service that also includes a release of balloons.

In the evening, there'll be a performance of a new outdoor theatre show called 'Homecoming'  in the Headland Town Square, Hartlepool.

Created by theatre company Periplum, it will use digital projection, pyrotechnics, specially commissioned music, lighting and other visual effects to tell the stories of local residents' contributions to the war effort, both on the home front and on foreign battlefields.

More information about the North Sea bombardments and the Centenary commemorations can be found on the websites of Heugh Battery Museum, Hartlepool, and Scarborough Borough Council.

For more information about the all-day, free to the public event, 'Hartlepool Remembered: Legacies of the Bombardment 1914,' click here

Entry to the performance of 'Homecoming' in Hartlepool is free but by ticket only. For more details of how to book, click here.

The Western Front Association will be exploring the bombardments at a conference in Scarborough on December 13th. 

Sources: Scarborough Borough Council; Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre; Hartlepool Borough Council; Heugh Battery Museum; Western Front Association; Wikipedia

Images courtesy of Mark Vesey, Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff/Hannah Schneider, Centenary News