The German bombardment was seen as a truly barbaric act - even in the context of a brutal war the attack was seen as uncivilised. The following article was written a short time after the raid and shows the bitterness towards the Germans. A group of German doctors had visited the town in the summer of 1913 and had been welcomed with flowers and chocolates. Looking back the writer suggests that these were not proper doctors and might have been spies.
WERE THEY LAUGHING UP THEIR SLEEVES. In the Scarborough Pictorial 30th December 1914
Great events from little causes spring, and in the lives of all of us it has happened that by the development of certain phases of things around us what were once considered mere trifles and almost forgotten, have taken unto themselves a newer and a truer significance. In proof of that nothing now seems more convincing than the incidents recalled by the above pictures (supplementing that forming the frontispiece of this issue). On a lovely day in August 1913, a party of Germans, described as delegates to the International Medical Conference, paid a visit to Scarborough, and, under official guidance, were allowed practically the run of the place, seeing the Castle, the Harbour, the Coastguard Station, and almost everything else of like importance. Twelve months afterwards almost to a day our country and theirs were in a state of war. Four months after that German warships did what they could in a limited time to destroy the town which had offered notable citizens of that nation the greatest hospitality. The minds of many Scarborough people have turned back to that day in August 1913, many times since a fortnight ago yesterday morning, and, putting two and two together, they have made exactly four. In other words it is inconceivable to residents of the town that vessels of a foreign power should evince such strange familiarity with our harbour and the leading buildings and districts of the town without some particular knowledge on which to base it. Where could they, and did they, get it from? We think the above pictures supply the answer to that question?
"A BOUQUET AND A BOMBARDMENT - SCARBOROUGH ROSES FOR GERMAN GUESTS - FORMER FRIENDS WHO ARE NOW FOES - GUNFIRE RETURN FOR GIFT, HOSPITALITY AND HYPOCRISY" in the Scarborough Mercury 30th December 1914
Scarborough gave Germany roses, and in return for the floral offering the Fatherland murdered peaceful citizens. A bombardment after the presentation of a bouquet is a felicitous phrase only intelligible to exponents of "culture." Ordinary mortals may be pardoned for interpreting this form of reciprocity in the same way as ingratitude which is sharper than the serpents tooth. For there was no poison in the roses which Scarborough tendered to the representatives of a nation then regarded as a great one. The flowers were the choicest and most fragrant to be found in the gardens by the sea, which have made Scarborough the Mecca of pilgrims who worship at the shrine decked with petals. Our bowers were rifled for the best blooms, and on an August day in 1913, a municipal bouquet was handed over to a German guest; one of the many passengers on a great ocean greyhound displaying what is now THE EAGLE OF ILL-OMEN.
This imposing liner had steamed into Scarborough bay, where there pleasure steamer Cambria (strangely enough, as it seems now, the Cambria had sailed under both French and British flags) met her and greetings were exchanged, and the flowers presented on behalf of the Mayor and Corporation by a German resident of the town, The liner was a huge vessel, and the visiting party was composed of 230 ladies and gentlemen, who after attending the International Medical Congress in London, commenced a voyage which was broken at Scarborough. Scarborough's German guests were brought ashore on the Cambria, and the music of the Rhineland floated over the water. Scarborough did not take such a sinister view of the Teuton then as now.
Otherwise the German doctors would not have been conducted on to the Castle Hill, Castle Dykes keep and other places of interest. No doubt the crew of the liner would be taking note of the surroundings, and it is well within the bounds of probability that some of the men who SPENT A DAY LYING OFF SCARBOROUGH were on a German squadron which a few days ago took up the positions off Scarborough indicating a strange familiarity with the roadstead. The "music" heard this time was the roar of guns, no doubt directed on certain points at the instigation of former guests. It is notable that the Town Hall, where the German scientists were officially received, and which excited their admiration, was struck by a shell during the bombardment, and that some of the Castle walls which the visitors inspected so closely were blown down. Even the Parish Church, round which the Germans had been shown by the vicar, did not entirely escape.
Practically all those who assisted at the municipal reception were in peril during the bombardment, and some sustained damage either to residence or business establishment. In the afternoon of the day n which the Germans paid what was considered a friendly visit, but may in the light of subsequent events have been PART OF THE ELABORATE SYSTEM OF ESPIONAGE, a special programme of selections from German composers was given in honour of the representatives of the healing art on the Spa.
During the day flags were flying from local buildings, and no doubt from the Lighthouse which was destroyed during the bombardment. It has so often happened that where the Germans have gone first as friends they have later gone as enemies, or as evangelists of a culture only they understand. What was described as a "pretty incident" occurred on the Spa during the "peaceful" German invasion. Madame Marge Neisch, prima donna of German opera at Breslau, was so charmed with the orchestra that she promised to sing at the afternoon performance. The latter was held in the Grand Hall, which was crowded. Madame Neisch sang "softly awakes mine heart," from "Samson and Deman" and her fine rendering evoked unstinted applause.
Madame Neisch paid a tribute to the conductor, Mr Alick McLean, an the band in regard to the way the members of the latter had accompanied her. The pretty incident, however, did not make Mr McLean altogether easy about a relative being in Germany when the war broke out, although in this case there appears nothing to complain about in the matter of treatment. The heart of the Huns who visited Scarborough on the warships did not "softly awake", and the shells fell not far from where the prima donna had sung. In addition to the municipal roses, CHOCOLATES WERE PRESENTED TO THE LADIES of the party. If the shells did not reach the shops where they were purchased the Germans cannot be blamed.
If the Cambria was not hit along with other vessels lying in the harbour it must be put down to oversight. The bombardment found Captain Cole, of the Cambria, an invalid, and the pandemonium was not conducive to his recovery. On the morning of the bombardment Mate Thompson was seen leading his invalid wife away from the home that was regarded as being safe. He would think of the August morning and the roses, and probably link u the flowers and firing.
The other ports where the Kronprinzessin Cecilie called should be on the watch for the ironclads, and the places where German guests were received should be insured. For "War is war," and although, unlike Hosea Biglow, the Germans don't call it murder by plain and flat, it is waged by the Kaiser "only that and nothing more."
As a guide to the castle Mr W.W. Larkin, showed the visitors round and explained the ancient relics to be seen there. On the Castle wall Mr Larkin has a large platform, which enables people to see round the town. Whilst on this platform, there were many of the Germans in front, but at the rear there were a large number of ladies and gentlemen. Mr Larkin was accompanied by his little grandson, who can speak the German language with ease. All appeared to be listening with interest to Mr Larkin's description concerning the town, when the little lad observed:-
"Granddad, that man said in German that you were a very good talker, and that the castle could easily be taken if wanted."
A lady standing immediately behind Mr Larkin asked if the boy could speak German. When notified of the fact that he could, she gave him a sixpence.
Mr Larkin did not take any particular notice of this incident at the time, but at a more recent date, he was in conversation with a local doctor. That gentleman told Mr Larkin that a number of the visitors were not the medial men that represented themselves to be. He talked to two of them and asked them a couple of simple questions concerning medical work, but they were totally at a loss for an answer.