From 'The Old Students' Association Domestic Training School, Leeds'.
The Bombardment of Scarborough
I have been asked to write an account of the bombardment of Scarborough, but I hardly know how to begin, because my most poignant recollections are conntacted with underclothes, the details of which cannot possibly be so interesting to other people as they were to me at the time. I was just thinking about getting up when the first shot was fired, so I stayed in bed and listened, as I had been called up in the night several times on false alarms, and was determined not to be deceived any more. I decided that the sounds had a mechanical regularity about them which was not pleasing, so I got up and went to the window, and by that time the shots were quite loud and near, and things began to crash. I could see nothing from my window, so went and joined another girl at the front, where we can see the Castle, and a little bit of sea. The space was filled immediately by flashes of fire, and smack ! bang ! the Castle walls went down, so I knew we were in for trouble and went to get some clothes on.
My companion was sick almost at once, but she still continued her usual frivolous chatter with tears streaming down her face. I wondered how she did it. My landlady's daughter then came up and said with a smile, '' The Germans have come, you must all come downstairs.'' but we all said we hasn't got enough on, and were told we must come without, and get dressed in the lower bedrooms. I thought I must get something on first, but the buttons wouldn't button, and bits began to fall down my chimney, so I too went down and finished dressing in the passage, where I was unfortunately observed by a friend who thought it a good tale to tell afterwards.
The noise was terrific, it seems to shake the ground, we could hear glass and bricks crashing in all directions, and our poor in-valid girl was screaming '' Don't leave me, don't leave me,'' when there came a heavenly respite for about five minutes during which I went upstairs for a handkerchief, some hairpins, and other necessities of life. We all got dressed to go out, but were told it was safer in the basement, so we went down there, and Mrs. Blakey who had been frying fish all the time, invited us to have breakfast. We stood round the table looking at it, wondering whether we should have porridge or death in the next five minutes, when Mr. Blakey ran in with joyful news that ship had done all the damage, and was going away at great speed so we sat down, and began to eat. Crowds of people poured down from the Castle Hill, some with bundles and without enough clothes on, it was so much like the '' Daily Mirror '' that we all laughed.
I went out first, and found a soldier and a small crowd waiting outside to see if we were hurt, as all our windows were broken, also I saw a hole in the house next door and a roof off across the road, a furniture van passed me as I went to business ; there were two men lying in it but whether dead or unconscious I do not know. I could only find the foreman at the office, he said he would close till dinner time as the men hasn't come back, and I went down to my brother's house to see what had happened to him. It was a lovely walk the stillness was startling and the sun poured over all, glittering from the glass which almost paved the streets and showing up dark holes in the houses. I was so pleased to be alive, and to hear people telling each other they weren't injured. A policeman told me there were twelve dead in the mortuary, and I was relieved to hear it, as I thought there would have been at least three hundred.
I also met a troop of Boy Scouts, who began to tell me about their comrade's death, they said they had stayed with him till his mother came up, '' and then you know, well, then, it began to be rather affecting, so we cleared out.'' Another of these cheerful little imps ran in to see a friend of mine and said '' I've just called to see how you are, but I'm awfully busy this morning, I've had two dead and one wondered through my hands.''
When I arrived at my brother's house my ring was answered by an awful silence, which made my blood run cold. I went in and found children's things lying in the hall, porridge in the kitchen, and two gases burning, it reminded me of '' The Sleeping Princess,'' but I couldn't find any charm to break the spell, so I locked the doors and came away, feeling rather cross with them for giving me such a fright when the house wasn't damaged. I then returned to the office, and was writing to the firm to say nothing was damaged when my brother rushed in. He looked over-joyed to see me, and said he had been getting his wife and children away into the country as he couldn't find out what was happening, and thought the bombardment might last for hours. We heard that there was a great naval battle raging, that all the coast towns were shelled, and that Robin Hood's Bay simply wasn't there.
About twelve o'clock we got the official announcement and were very disappointed that the ships had escaped, I was surprised at the tone of the papers the next morning, as I thought the German had been very braved, and done a fine trick which would count one of them. It was certainly brazen of them to turn round and wave their hands to the men on a trawler which was behind them while they were shooting. As for calling them '' baby killers,'' we can read in the papers that hundreds of babies die in England every year for want of being looked after, and that is surely worse ; but still, I hope they won't come again.
END - Donated by Peggy Jay 15/7/2021