Article from the 20th April 1917 in the 'Scarborough Mercury' entitled "An echo of the German bombardment"
A British officer during a recent push on the Western front entered an abandoned German trench in which he found a copy of the Berlin "Lokal Anzeiger" of Sunday 3rd. 1915, containing an article on Mr. Churchill's letter to the Mayor of Scarborough, referring to the bombardment of the town by German ships together with a plan of the Castle Yard and harbour in order to establish the claim that Scarborough is a fortified town.
The officer thoughtfully forwarded the claim to the Town Clerk, believing that it would be of considerable interest. This kind act is much appreciated. We have translated the text of the article which we now publish, together with a reproduction of the plan which accompanied it. The plan is a copy of a portion of the one that appeared in "The Times" the day after the bombardment showing considerably more of the town than the paper reproduced. The German copy contains a line under North Battery which is not in the original drawing. The object of this is to emphasise the alleged fact that a battery exists guns are mounted in the Castle Yard.
The plan reproduced is of English origin, so far as it relates to the Castle Yard, is of old date. It may be said that the Marine Drive is shown on it but this is an addition to an old drawing. The map is not an official one and therefore is not recognised as such. It is a reporduction of a private one for trade purposes. The German Admiralty would not rely on an unauthorised plan but have those issued by the British Government including the ordinance maps upon which all others are based.
The first ordinance survey was in 1850 and officially published in 1852. This shows the North Battery, which consisted of three muzzle loaded guns, of an old pattern, placed on a ledge a few feet below the level of the Castle Yard, near the north-east corner overlooking the Holms. These guns were removed more than 50 years ago and the ledge has very much reduced in size and has nearly disappeared. The site of the Holms battery of more than 100 years ago, is marked on the plan. The South Steel Battery is also shown. The next ordinance survey was in 1890-1, and published in 1893. The North Battery disappeared from this, and the only guns shown are three facing the sea north of the lady chapel. These were muzzle loaded guns of an abandoned type.
Between the survey of 1890-1 and the last survey in 1910 modern guns were mounted for practice at the south-east corner, but these were removed on account of the construction of the Marine Drive at the end of the last century. The last survey of 1910 was published in 1912, copies of which the German authorities will have. No batteries are shown on it in connection with the town, nor is a single gun shown in the Castle Yard or in any other position in the borough.
The statement industriously circulated by the German authorities to mislead their own people and neutrals that Scarborough is a fortified town was a deliberate falsehood. They were in possession of official plans issued by the British Government which make it clear that when published not a single gun for defensive purposes existed. German spies no doubt visited the town after 1912, and probably on the eve of the bombardment, in which case the German Admiralty would be fully aware that the town was not fortified and therefore incapable of any defences.
The following is the article to which we refer:- "ENGLAND'S HYPOCRISY AT THE DEED"
(Translated from the Berlin "Lokal Anzeiger," Sunday 3rd January, 1915)
The bombardment of Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby by our clever raiding cruisers has caused the deepest astonishment in England. Mr. Churchill, who is admittedly held responsible for the defective watching of the English coast, has stated in his letter - just received - to the Mayor of Scarborough that the hatred of Germans for England, which has already made them completely irresponsible, was the cause of our clever naval raid. The undertaking had the sole objective of killing as many English people as possible, and for this short pleasure were several of the most valuable units of the German fleet risked. We do not know whether Mr Churchill really holds this view, but we know that the naval raid on the English coast had a definite military purpose. We must obtain experience of the power of the English coast fortifications and the watchfulness of the English coastguard stations unless we are to work completely in the dark when landing an army of invasion.
The same Mr. Churchill, who has had the audacity to call our brave sailors "the baby-killers of Scarborough," is responsible for the bombardments of the Belgian coast towns, such as Zeebrugge, Ostend, and Westende), which are absolutely without military significance: bombardments which do us no military damage but which compel the Belgian population - women, children and grey-beards to give up their lives in English artillery fire; the same Belgians whose protection England has fruitlessly entered the world war. The shameless lying habit of the Enlglish nature goes as far as to calmly assert that Scarborough and Hartlepool are open towns. We would not argue the question how far the two English coast towns differ from Freidrichshafen, Freisburg and Dusseldorf, if they are in open towns. We content ourselves on reproducing out of the "Times" a plan of the town of Scarborough on which the fortifications which Scarborough possesses, viz., Scarborough Castle with the north battery are marked - a battery which is fitted with 15cm. (6in.) quick firing guns.
One cannot really understand how the English people find the courage for such lies after an "uncensored" town plan of Scarborough has been published.
It is certainly very regrettable that English civilians should be killed owing to the bombardment. We must, however, ask the question, who is responsible for allowing the civil population to be in the immediate neighbourhood of the fortifications of Scarborough and Hartlepool and the coastguard station of Whitby, when the secretaries of the Admiralty must have been conscious of the possibility of enemy attacks on these important military places? Mr. Winston Churchill cannot expect us to give him previous warning of the raids of our fleet and their objects. On the next raid of the German fleet we will advise him of the possibilities of protection of the civil population from their dangers. The remedy is near to hand. He should simply do what he has hitherto delayed to do, i.e. let the coast be constantly patrolled by patrol boats. Then will it indeed be possible to warn in good time the civil population.
Whether Mr Winston Churchill will better fulfil in the future this duty or not - we shall not worry about that. we quote the words of a highly placed English naval officer:-
"If I am in command when war breaks out I shall issue my orders: The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility. Hit first, hit hard, and hit anywhere."
These words are all the more appropriate since the high English naval officer who spoke them is at present Commander-in-Chief of the English Navy. Lord John Fisher has expressed his conviction of the necessity of war in this form, and the fact that he carries out the war against us on these principles, a little more brutally than is necessary, is borne witness to by the English raids on Zeebrugge, Ostend and Westende.