Article about the German raid on Hartlepool
MANY CASUALTIES AT HARTLEPOOL - TERRITORIALS AMONGST THE KILLED - SALVATION ARMY ADJUTANT FATALLY INJURED
The firing upon the Hartlepools started precisely at five minutes past eight in the morning, but accounts differ as to the length of its duration, says the "Yorkshire Post." One observer says that the last shell burst in the town at 8-37, in which case the firing lasted about half an hour. Others, however, say that it continued forty minutes, as to which one may say that, in the differences seems great, the sudden and tremendous wave of excitement that swept over the port might well excuse it.
When the guns were first heard most people thought our own ships were practising at sea, but that comfortable explanation was soon dissipated by the whizz of shells coming shorewards and making sounds like wind against telegraph wires. From that time the fire was persistent and rapid, and so many shells fell in the town that I have not been able to glean even an estimate of their numbers, nor even an accurate statement of casualties. Up to five o'clock on Wednesday evening the police of West Hartlepool had official cognisance of 30 deaths, and so far as can be ascertained, the killed in the East Hartlepool area totalled 17. These figures, however are still subject to revision, and the authorities have not yet issued a list of names.
It is even more difficult to give an estimate of the wounded. During the day the CAMERON HOSPITAL DEALT WITH 160 CASES, of which 60 were serious enough to be detained, in fact, the hospital is full, and all day the honorary staff has been busy conducting splinters of metal. Seventeen casualties are being accommodated in the Masonic Hall, Tunstal Hall has been turned into a hospital, and all the available beds at the Workhouse are being utilised. Sorrow, in fact, has entered so many homes, and the street scenes of the deadly half-hour in the morning were so ghastly, that the twin towns are for the moment stunned and damaged. People who have passed through it tell you that they never wish to see the like again, and that the only consolation which one philosopher could extract from the experience was perhaps now England would wake up.
While it is impossible to write with any certainty on the point, it would appear that the attacking force, which came from the south, numbered four ships. The method by which they approached is testified by many witnesses as being designed to allay suspicions. One of the ships came on a regular line seaward, and the defending batteries were put off their guard, the more so as the advancing ship was flying the White Ensign. Having by this means got within range of the town, the ship turned and opened a heavy broadside, the others joined in the attack. Their fire was separately directed upon West Hartlepool, East Hartlepool, and Middleton, which is between the two.
The bulk of the men in the town were out that time working, and in their absence the women and children at home were terribly frightened. The little ones, in fact, were mostly getting up for the day, and women, some of them scantily clad, rushed into the streets. CARRYING TROUBLED INFANTS IN THEIR ARMS and others crying at their skirts. This was a general spectacle in the town during the attack, and it was pathetic in the extreme, of course the folks ought to have kept indoors, but their instinct was to get away at all costs, though in doing so some of them were blown to pieces in the street, In a short time the westward road in Elwick was crowded with women and children, who had rushed away with just what they were wearing at the time, with many of them being only half dressed. Later, however, when the danger had passed and the worst had been done, a rider, on a motorcycle raced along the road and reassured people as he passed, telling them they could safely return. He continued his journey until the most distant sojourner had been overtaken, and thus by night the whole of the population had settled in their houses again - those at any rate, that had not been destroyed. Men of the professional class who had not left their houses stayed behind to comfort and cheer their families.
While all parts of he town suffered, the bulk of the attack was directed at East Hartlepool, where whole rows of houses were demolished, or their walls pierced. In some cases beds are hanging from the ruined walls, and among the killed are two Miss Kays, who lived in an end house. The Lighthouse, which is nearby, was undamaged. As the attack developed the shore batteries replied with a vigorous fire. A batch of men belonging to the territorial regiment was standing on the sea front watching the affair as if it were a lively picnic. Seven of them were killed outright by a shell, and I learn that five of the men belonging to the battery met with their death.
A good deal of shipping at the docks was shelled, and in one case a new steamer lying in the harbour was struck in the hull, the shell passing in at one side and out at the other. A quarter of the workshops of Messrs. Richardson, Westgarth and Co. at Middleton, was wrecked and offices of the firm on the other side of the streets were likewise destroyed but the chief account to the town was THE FATE OF THE GASWORKS. Two holders standing fairly near to each other and a third which is some distance away were each struck by separate shells, from which it is conjectured that there was someone on board who was well acquainted with the topography of the town. This is further supported by the circumstance that higher buildings in the line of fire were not touched. A small fire broke out at the gasworks, but it was soon put under, but a great quantity of gas escaped, and at night those places not fitted with electricity had to resort to candles. The waterworks were also attacked , but fortunately the tanks were not damaged and so the towns supply was not damaged, and so the town's supply was not interfered with.
Churches and chapels suffered equally with private property. A shell passed through the roof of the ancient church of St Hilda at East Hartlepool, and at the other side of the road the vicarage roof was blown completely off. Here lives the aged Canon Ormsby brother of Bishop Ormsby, Archdeacon of Dindisfarne. He was in bed at the time, and was at once TAKEN DOWN TO THE CELLAR. Fortunately neither he nor any household was hurt. The Scandinavian church was battered, and a baptist Chapel also came in the line of fire, a shell passing clean through it and piercing the bedroom of a house behind. There a young lady was in bed.
At the railway station another shell came through the wall, and on to the platform, making a huge breach. A train happened to be standing in the station at the time, and the affrighted passengers jumped out and refused to continue the journey. A porter was badly injured in the leg by bits of flying brick, but otherwise not much harm was done.
The cruisers also endeavoured to bombard the Furness Steel Works. One missile reached the slagheap, and the workpeople all over downed tools and made for safety. A Salvation Army adjutant named Avers was frightfully mangled in the street and killed instantly. In another case a shell entered a private house in Dene-street and killed all the occupants - FATHER, MOTHER, AND SIX CHILDREN.
Another family is bereft of father, mother, and two children, and only one small child remains - a truly pathetic survivor. The house of one of the Customs officials, Mr Caws, was hit, and both his wife and his daughter were killed. He himself was in the house at the time, and escaped injury.
Down at Greatham there is an unexpended 12-inch shell lying; indeed, many of the shells sent in were this calibre, and abundantly support the view that big guns had been employed.
The offices of the "Northern Daily Mail" were partially wrecked. In front of the building a telegraph pole was carried away. A sub-editor looking out of the window of his office saw the incident, and at once rushed back. By that time the shell had entered the concrete shell of the readers room, and had exploded. None of the machinery, however, was damaged. Yet another shell struck the side of the Mill House Inn, not far away. It took the corner of the building off, crashed through an adjoining wall, and finally cleared away the two ground floor rooms of a house in Poplar-grove. A tramway office between the two Hartlepools was shattered, and in one private house in East Hartlepool a BED WAS HURLED UPON TO THE ROOF. At Mr W. Ropner's house,Ambleside, Wets Hartlepool, the cook was killed.
The most extensive damage appears to have been done in the Quayside district of East Hartlepool, near what is known as the Moor, where the Hartlepool River Football ground is situated. Large numbers of shell fell among the terraces overlooking the sea, and in some more thickly populated parts near the Quayside, the streets after the bombardment resembled a shambles. One of the first shells split in twain a horse grazing in the Rovers' football field, and other shells which fell in close proximity ricocheted off the concrete embankment and buried themselves in the sands. Houses between the Hartlepool Station and the sea were tumbled down like packs of cards, and throughout the day it seemed as if all the horses and carts in the town were engaged moving the debris. Moor-terrace and Cliff-terrace, suffered terribly. They were enfiladed by the fire from the enemy ships and most of them were RAZED TO THE GROUND. Furniture was scattered in the streets, and one of the most pathetic sights was a couple of blood covered beds which, with their occupants, had been blown clean through a house side.
For the rest of the day thousands who had escaped injury crowded the telegraph wires with reassuring messages to their friends at a distance. Inquests on the victims will be opened to-morrow at both East and West Hartlepools.
This afternoon the following proclamation was issued:-
"The civilian population are requested as far as possible to keep to their houses for the present. The situation is now secure. The group leaders will advise in case of further damage. Any unexploded shells must not be touched, but information may be given to the police.