Town commemorates bombardment centenary

Representatives of HM Coastguard paid their respects to Fred Randall at the opening of Whitby's new bombardment memorial
Representatives of HM Coastguard paid their respects to Fred Randall at the opening of Whitby's new bombardment memorial

A century to the day after Whitby was bombarded by German battlecruisers, the town came together to commemoratethe events of December 16, 1914 .

A permanent memorial feature was unveiled at the Sunken Gardens on the West Cliff, while services took place Dock End war memorial and at St Hilda’s Church.

Three locals lost their lives during the five-minute long attack and others were injured as shells rained down on Whitby Abbey, Fishburn Park and parts of Sleights.

Heather Coughlan, Mayor of Whitby, said it was important to pay tribute to those who lost their lives as well as what was one of the most important events in the town’s history.

“I’m pleased that as a town we have been able to remember the events of 100 years ago in such a fitting way,” she added.

The memorial garden on the West Cliff, which has been four years in the making, features the bombed out remains of a house and an unexploded shell donated by Whitby Town Council.

After a short service led by Reverend Canon David Smith, the installation was officially opened at 9.05am on Tuesday, the time that the bombardment began, exactly 100 years earlier.

Amanda Smith, chairman of Whitby In Bloom, the group behind the garden, said: “This will hopefully prove to be a lasting memorial to the pain suffered by the people of Whitby during World War One.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the end result. It is everything that I hoped it would be, and more. I’m bowled over by how good it looks.”

Representatives from HM Coastguard and the Scout Movement were in attendance at the unveiling.

Coastguard Fred Randall was the first person to be killed during the bombardment, while Scout Robert Miller lost a leg in the bombardment.

Nathan Brown, Whitby Station Officer, added: “This memorial is very fitting and it was nice to be a part of this really moving occasion.

“My colleagues and I were delighted to be able to turn out and show our support for one of our own, who was killed while doing his duty.”

Later in the day, a pair of services were held in Whitby to mark the centenary of the bombardment.

A candlelit vigil was held at the Dock End war memorial before St Hilda’s Church hosted a more formal event featuring a performance from the Dalesmen Singers male voice choir.

Residents and visitors turned out in their numbers to pay their respects at both services, which were organised by Whitby Town Council’s Armed Forces Committee.