The Great War, I was there - Part 7

and Whitby. They do not further concern this story. Shortly before 8 a.m., 16th, Seyd- litz, Moltke, Bliicher, in that order, steamed across Tees Bay from TheS.E. December morning was cold, but there Hvuring the night of December 15-16,1914, five German cruisers, Seyd- 1 itz, Moltke, Derillinger, Von der Tann, and Bliicher, all battle-cruisers except the last-named, gathered off the N.K. Yorkshire coast in two divisions. The northern consisted of the Seydlitz, Moltke, and Bliicher. These must have edged in a bit closer to the shore, as they were inside our extended patrol— two destroyers and a gunboat—by dawn. Somewhere off Saltburn seems to have been the spot where the attackers hung about until they steamed off inline ahead to the attack of Hartlepool. The other two, Derillinger and Yon dor Tann, steamed south, and at about 8 a.m., 16th, fired upon Scarborough Central Press BY THEIR ‘DUDS’ THEY WERE KNOWN Not all the shells that the German cruisers hurled into the Hartlepools on a December morning in 1914 brought the damage and death for which they were intended, as this photograph reveals. The projectiles which failed to explode came from guns of l T2 and 5'9 calibre, and it was by these “duds ”that the bombarding vessels were identified. For forty-three minutes the Bliicher and two other battle-cruisers maintained a steady bombardment and attacked first the forts and later shipyards and other industrial centres of the towns causing heavy casualties. *51 December 16,1914 BRITISH PLUCK and LUCK at the HARTLEPOOLS Britain’s First Bombardment in 250 Years [Sot since 1665, when De Ruyter raided Sheerness, had a British soldier been killed by the enemy on English soil until, on the morning of December 16,1914, German vessels (including the Bliicher) bombarded the Hartlepools, killing and wounding 420 civilians and soldiers in 43 minutes. The following account of the daring raid is by an officer then in command of the Hartlepool defences. Hartlepool was well avenged when in the following year the Blucher was sunk on the Dogger Bank H artlepool, or rather the Hartle­ pools, for the new town of West Hartlepool immediately adjoins its ancient sister, possesses line mer­cantile marine shipbuilding yards, and is the home port for a large fishing fleet. There are also immense marine engineer­ing works. These were cogent reasons for arming the place, and so it had been a defended port many years previous to the Great War. aBut pretty weak armament it was :two forts, one containing two six-inch guns, the other, a hundred yards to the south, one of the same calibre. Three and a half miles farther south, across Tees Bay, lay the mouth of that river, defended by a fort containing two 1'7 guns. The steelworks, dotted up its banks as far as Middlesbrough, were too far inland to attack, though the river-mouth was an important anchor­age for in- and out-going vessels. In other words, the authorities, in arming the place, never contemplated this sort of attack. But nothing in war ever happens as per book. When asked how lie received his wound, a Crimean cavalry veteran replied peevishly :“1 guarded ‘two,’ same as book said, but the bloody Rooshian cuts‘ fow-er.’ ”was not a breath of wind, the smoke going straight up from the funnels, for the hostile vessels were easing down their speed. The sea was like oil, and the tide dead low—a combination which considerably helped the defence, as will be explained later. Pocketed in the bay was a dense mist which slowly, but never quite, dispersed. If persistently hung about Tees mouth, which locality appears to bethe per­manent catchpan for all fumes coming downriver from the steelworks. These conditions considerably hampered the style of South Gare, the 4 7 battery. ^\uk tiny intercepted patrol, the destroyers Doon and Hardly, plus the gunboat Patrol, pluckily closed with the three monsters, who naturally “bashed” them unmercifully, quickly causing damage to personnel and mate­rial. It was a hopeless light from the first, and our boats had to draw off.
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