Maritime Monday for February 20, 2012: Alas Poor Yorck; The Raid on Scarborough

Monkey Fist
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February 19, 2012


What is naval power for?

imageThere is no permanent answer. Unlike land-based military might – designed for the conquest of human-occupied territory – sea power has had different functions at different times. In the 19th century, the purpose of “gunboat diplomacy” was to offer a mobile deterrent….

In the first world war (and in the second) the aim was to prevent or deliver invasions, and to starve the enemy through a blockade. Yet at no time during the 1914-18 conflict did either the general staff of the German army or the German naval staff, as Robert Massie puts it, “ever seriously discuss or plan an invasion of England on any scale”.

What Massie’s brilliant, exhaustive study of naval policy and action during the so-called “great war” shows is that it was also something else – a form of testosterone. Not only in war, but also in the preceding peace, big, expensive sea fortresses, with the ability to lob high-explosive artillery shells over distances of 12 miles or more, were as much about national prestige as about serviceable power… Review of Castles of Steel by historian Ben Pimlott


1915: English war ships in storms – The Great War by air and sea – 25 fotos


brochure issued by North Eastern Railway, c1912

A charming – if slightly menacing – pierrot drawing attention to the north east coast of England as a holiday playground – the area served by the North Eastern Railway and stretching down from Northumberland to Yorkshire. The bracing resorts such as Whitley Bay, Scarborough and Filey were heavily promoted by the NER. –posted by mikeyashworth


Grand Hotel, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
full size‎ (3,512 × 2,582 pixels)

Scarborough is a large town on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England. The modern town lies between 3 – 70 m (10 – 230 ft) above sea level, rising steeply northward and westward from the harbour onto limestone cliffs. The older part of the town lies around the harbour and is protected by a rocky headland.

The most striking feature of the town’s geography is a high rocky promontory pointing eastward into the North Sea. The promontory supports the 11th century ruins of Scarborough Castle and separates the sea front into a North Bay and a South Bay. The South Bay was the site of the original early medieval settlement and the harbour, which form the current Old Town district. This remains the main focus for tourism, with a sandy beach, cafes, amusements, arcades, theatres and entertainment facilities.

more on wikipedia


English Railway Travel Poster: produced for British Railways (BR) to promote rail travel to the coastal resort of Scarborough in Yorkshire. Artwork by Frank Henry Mason (1876-1965), who was educated at HMS Conway and spent time at sea. He painted marine and coastal subjects and was involved in engineering and shipbuilding.

print available from Travel Posters Online


Scarborough, England 5 huge-ass glass negatives on skyscrapercity: Lost Britainposted by hoogbouw010


The German Raid on Scarborough

Published 1915 by E. T. W. Dennis & sons, ltd., London & Scarborough
on Open Library *Read online

Three German ships appeared off the defenseless town of Scarborough just before 0800, battlecruisers Derfflinger and Von der Tann opened fire, while light cruiser Kolberg went to lay mines off Flamborough Head.


Yorkshire, Flamborough, North Landing – (see full size)


Flamborough Head Lighthouse

Flamborough Head is a chalk promontory of 8 miles (13 km) on the Yorkshire coast of England, between the Filey and Bridlington bays of the North Sea. The Flamborough Head Lighthouse has 4 white flashes every 15 seconds.

Battle of Flamborough Head:

A Franco-American squadron fought the Battle of Flamborough Head with a pair of Royal Navy frigates in the American Revolutionary War on 23 September 1779. In the engagement, USS Bonhomme Richard and Pallas, with USS Alliance, captured HMS Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, the best-known incident of Capt. John Paul Jones’s naval career. The toposcope at the lighthouse commemorates the 180th anniversary of the battle.

more on wikipedia
Flamborough Head Lighthouse on Old UK Photos

The Mining of Flamborough


The following Memorandum has been furnished by the Admiral Commanding the East Coast Minesweepers, detailing the recent mine-sweeping operations off Scarborough:

–From the 19th to the 31st December sweeping operations were conducted by the East Coast Mine sweepers with the object of clearing the minefield which had been laid by the enemy off Scarborough.

–At the beginning there was no indication of the position of the mines, although owing to losses of passing merchant ships it was known that a minefield had been laid.

–In order to ascertain how the mines lay it was necessary to work at all times of tide with a consequent large increase in the element of danger

Their next target was a naval wireless station just outside the suburb of Falsgrave (now the site of GCHQ Scarborough). The wireless station was undamaged, but some shells fell short. The two German battlecruisers then sailed north past the town, still firing, before heading around the coast to Whitby.(


Whitby is a seaside town, port and civil parish in the Scarborough borough of North Yorkshire, England. Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk.

Whitby has a combined maritime, mineral and tourist heritage, and is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey where Caedmon, the earliest English poet, lived. The fishing port emerged during the Middle Ages and developed important herring and whaling fleets, and was where Captain Cook learned seamanship.

*The ancient Penny Hedge ceremony is performed on the eve of Ascension Day commemorating a penance imposed by the abbot on miscreant hunters in the Middle Ages. The hunters using a knife costing a penny had to cut wood in Eskdaleside and take it to Whitby harbour where it was made into a hedge that would survive three tides. This tradition is carried out annually on the east side of the upper harbour.

more on wikipedia


Yorkshire, Whitby; Old UK Photos

The two battlecruisers then headed north for Whitby, and opened fire on this equally defenseless port just after 0900, departing after 10 minutes and ignoring two tramp steamers passing to the south. Four fishing vessels were damaged in Scarborough during the bombardment. (

imageThe attack on the east coast caused outrage in Britain. Part of this was due to the failure of the navy to intercept the German raiders, but much was made of the attack on an open town. Despite a bombardment lasting half an hour, only eighteen people were killed in Scarborough. Further north Hartlepool was much harder hit. –(historyofwar)

The German raid on the Yorkshire coast of 15-16 December 1914 saw the first civilian casualties on British soil since the French Revolutionary Wars. It was the product of a failure of the German naval strategy at the start of the First World War. This had relied on the British coming into German home waters where they would have been vulnerable to attack by submarines.

Meanwhile the High Seas Fleet would avoid taking risks that might expose the north German coast to invasion. Indeed, on 28 August 1914 elements of the British fleet had done just that (battle of Heligoland Bight), but the resulting battle had seen the Germans loose four ships without sinking a single British ship. –(

The Players:

Scarborough and Whitby Group


SMS Derfflinger, (named after Field Marshal Georg von Derfflinger who fought in the Thirty Years’ War) was the nameship of the Derfflinger class of battlecruisers, widely considered to be the best battlecruisers of the First World War. She later fought at Dogger Bank and at Jutland, where she was badly damaged but survived. Her stubborn resistance led to the British nicknaming her “Iron Dog”.

The ship was partially responsible for the sinking of two British battlecruisers at Jutland; Derfflinger and Seydlitz destroyed Queen Mary, and Lützow assisted her elder sister in the sinking of Invincible.

Derfflinger was interned with the rest of the High Seas fleet at Scapa Flow following the armistice in November 1918. Under the orders of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the interned ships were scuttled on 21 June 1919; Derfflinger sank at 14:45.


see also: Derfflinger – Port Quarter Aspect showing Jutland Damage on

SMS Kolberg was a light cruiser of the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) during the First World War, the lead ship ofher class. She had three sister ships, SMS Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg. She was built by the Schichau-Werke; her hull was laid down in early 1908 and she was launched later that year, in November. She was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in June 1910. She was armed with a main battery of twelve 10.5 cm SK L/45 guns and had a top speed of 25.5 kn (47.2 km/h; 29.3 mph).

Kolberg saw action in several engagements with the British during the war, including the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in December 1914 and the Battle of Dogger Bank the following month. She also saw action against the Russians on two occasions, during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915 and Operation Albion in November 1917. After the end of the war, she was ceded to France as a war prize and renamed Colmar. She served only briefly in the French Navy, including a deployment to Asia in 1924. She was stricken in 1927 and broken up two years later.


SMS Von der Tann was well received as Germany’s first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds of more than 27 knots. Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Von der Tann was the workhorse of the High Seas Fleet Scouting Squadron, and was designed in response to the British Invincible class.

The ship met her end when the fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919. The wreck of Von der Tann was raised in 1930, then scrapped at Rosyth from 1931 to 1934. (image source)


crew and interior; SMS Von Der Tann

Hartlepool Group

While Derfflinger, Von der Tann and Kolberg approached Scarborough, Seydlitz, Blücher and Moltke proceeded toward Hartlepool


(image source: above) — (image source: below)


SMS Seydlitz was the fourth German battlecruiser, and was essentially an enlarged version of the previous Moltke class ships. She was 46 feet longer but 3 feet narrower, carried the same main armament of ten 11.1in guns, and had a designed speed one knot faster (although her actual top speed of 28.1kts was lower than that achieved by the Moltke).

The Seydlitz was Admiral Hipper’s flagship from June 1914 until October 1917. She took part in the Gorleston Raid (Raid on Yarmouth) of 2-4 November 1914, (the first attack on the British coast during the First World War) and then the attack on Hartlepool on 16 December, where she was hit by three 6 in shells from the coastal guns.

She was named after Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz, a Prussian general during the reign of King Frederick the Great and the Seven Years’ War. As with the rest of the German battlecruisers that survived the war, Seydlitz was interned  then scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1918.


SMS Blücher was the last armored cruiser to be built by the German Imperial Navy. The ship was named for the Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher, the commander of Prussian forces at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Documents from the German naval archives generally indicate satisfaction with Blücher′s minor pitch and gentle motion at sea. However, she suffered from severe roll, and with the rudder hard over, she heeled over up to 10° from the vertical and lost up to 55% of her speed. As with other German capital ships of the period, Blücher was equipped with Krupp cemented armor. The armored deck was between 5–7 cm (2.0–2.8 in) in thickness; more important areas of the ship were protected with thicker armor, while less critical portions of the deck used the thinner form.

Upon reaching the British coast, Hipper′s battlecruisers split into two groups. Seydlitz, Moltke, and Blücher went north to shell Hartlepool, while Von der Tann and Derfflinger went south to shell Scarborough and Whitby. Of the three towns, only Hartlepool was defended by coastal artillery batteries. During the bombardment of Hartlepool, Seydlitz was hit three times and Blücher was hit six times by the coastal battery. Blücher suffered minimal damage, but nine men were killed and another three were wounded. By 09:45 on the 16th, the two groups had reassembled, and they began to retreat eastward.

Blücher was built at the Kaiserliche Werft shipyard in Kiel between 1907 and 1909, and was sunk at the Battle of Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915. The number of casualties is unknown, with figures ranging from 747 to around 1,000.


SMS Moltke was the nameship of the Moltke class of battlecruisers, the second general of battlecruisers built for the German navy. She was a distinctive improvement on the already impressive von der Tann, carrying ten guns and reasonably heavy armour but still able to reach high speeds. She was commissioned for trials on 30 September 1911, and achieved a top speed of 28.4kts on the measured mile.

Named after the 19th century German field marshal Helmuth von Moltke. Commissioned on 30 September 1911, the ship was the second battlecruiser commissioned into the Imperial Navy. Compared to her British rivals— the Indefatigable class Moltke and her sister Goeben were significantly larger and better armored.

At 03:20 on 15 December, Moltke, Seydlitz, Von der Tann, Derfflinger, and Blücher, along with the light cruisers Kolberg, Strassburg, Stralsund, and Graudenz, and two squadrons of torpedo boats left the Jade. The ships sailed north past the island of Heligoland, until they reached the Horns Reef lighthouse, at which point the ships turned west towards Scarborough. Twelve hours after Hipper left the Jade, the High Seas Fleet, consisting of 14 dreadnoughts and 8 pre-dreadnoughts and a screening force of 2 armored cruisers, 7 light cruisers, and 54 torpedo boats, departed to provide distant cover.

During the bombardment of Hartlepool, Moltke was struck by a 6 in (15.2 cm) shell from a coastal battery, which caused minor damage between decks, but no casualties. Scuttled 21 June 1919 at Scapa Flow. The wreck of Moltke was raised in 1927 and scrapped at Rosyth from 1927 to 1929.


imageSM U-17 – The German Navy had been seeking opportunities to draw out small sections of the British fleet which it could trap and destroy. U-17 was sent to investigate the area near Scarborough and Hartlepool for coastal defenses. The submarine reported little onshore defense, no mines within 12 mi (10 nmi; 19 km) of the shore and a steady stream of shipping. (wiki)

On 20 October, 1914 this boat was the first to sink a merchant vessel. U-17 stopped the 866 ton British steamer SS Glitra ( off the Norwegian coast, and having searched her cargo, ordered the crew to the lifeboats before scuttling the vessel.

imageArmored cruiser Yorck – The big warship blundered into a German minefield while returning from the Scarborough raid on December 15, and foundered in sight of land.
City of Art

The ship had a short career; she served with the fleet for the first seven years, after which she was decommissioned and placed in reserve. After the outbreak of World War I, she was reactivated and returned to front-line service.

After returning from the raid on Yarmouth on 3–4 November, the ship made a navigational error in heavy fog and accidentally sailed into a German defensive minefield. The ship sank quickly with heavy loss of life, though sources disagree on the exact number of fatalities. Her commander was subsequently brought before a court martial and convicted of negligence. Yorck was broken up incrementally, with work occurring in 1929–30, 1965, being finally completed in 1982.

more on wiki

The Results:


Damage to the lighthouse on Vincent’s Pier, Scarborough, caused by shells from the German battlecruisers SMS DERFFLINGER and SMS VON DER TANN when the town was bombarded on the morning of 16 December 1914

During the bombardment by Hipper’s battlecruisers the lighthouse was hit twice, once in the tower and once in the harbourmasters quarters. The damage to the lighthouse tower was considered so severe that the structure was considered unsafe and was demolished three days after the bombardment. Reconstruction of the tower was undertaken in 1931.

wikimedia commons


A Devil of a Do in Scarborough – Contemporary postcard mailed 21st December

“Dear Bert, Lizzie and Freddie, Just a line to let you know I’m going to be alright. There will be no leave this Christmas… Well we shall soon have Christmas here now. It was a bit of a devil about that Scarboro do wasn’t it. Well ta ta for present. Warmest regards, Alb”.

Whilst a cruiser laid a minefield out to sea, German battlecruisers opened fire on a coastguard station and yeomanry barracks in the town. They also fired on the old castle and the Grand Hotel which they seemingly mistook for a gun battery


Scarborough Damage becomes enlistment poster

WWI recruitment poster referring to the German bombardment of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England, in 1915. “Men of Britain! Will you stand this? 78 women & children were killed and 228 women & children were wounded by the German raiders. Enlist now.”

Caption: “No. 2 Wykeham Street, Scarborough, after the German bombardment on Dec. 16th. It was the home of a working man. Four people were killed in this house including the wife, aged 58, and two children, the youngest aged 5.”

original photo full sizeposter full size


WW1 propaganda postersposted by Paul Malon

see also: By Staying Home, You are Giving Your Approval


Albert Edward Dock – 14th September 1917
(Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ photostream)


RMS Aquitania in the Gladstone Graving Dock, Liverpool – 1914

The Gladstone graving dock was completed in 1913. At the outbreak of the First World War, the liner RMS Aquitania was undergoing repairs in the dock. As a result, she was immediately converted in-situ for war service. (source)

Gladstone Dock is located on the River Mersey, England and part of the Port of Liverpool. It is situated in the northern dock system in Bootle. The dock is connected to the Royal Seaforth Dock to the north and what remains of Hornby Dock to the south. Part of Liverpool Freeport, Gladstone Dock is operated by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.

The dock is named for Robert Gladstone, a merchant from Liverpool and second cousin of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Designed in the first decade of the twentieth century, construction was eventually completed in 1927 and consisted of three miles (5 km) of quays and extensive warehouse space.

The graving dock was completed in 1913, before the rest of the dock became operational. At 1,050 ft long and 120 ft (37 m) wide it was designed to take the largest trans-Atlantic steamers. During the Second World War, ASW ships, Atlantic convoy escorts and minesweepers were based there.  (wiki)


On 25 January 1953, the liner RMS Empress of Canada (1928) caught fire and capsized in the Gladstone Number One Branch Dock.

In this shot the Empress of Canada has started to move from her watery grave and is about half way to being righted,you can clearly see the position of one of her funnels,everything other than her main superstructure has already been removed. –posted by Jibup

Original (2908 x 1933) – See also On her side

She was refloated the following year and towed to Gladstone Graving Dock and be made watertight, in preparation for being scrapped in Italy. Transatlantic passenger services continued to use the dock until all such services from Liverpool were discontinued in 1971

further reading:
The sinking of the Empress of Canada (1920) on Nineteen Keys and the Lure of a Furious Sea blog.


Gladstone Lock – The main line Gladstone Dock railway station closed to passengers on 7 July 1924 while the Liverpool Overhead Railway station Gladstone Dock (LOR) closed in 1956. As part of Liverpool Freeport, Gladstone Dock’s principal uses are: importing coal for the adjacent Hornby Dock coal processing facility and exporting scrap metal to the Far East. (wiki)


Real photo card of the troopship USS Leviathan in drydock; Liverpool, England


1st World War British Navy


“It is almost inconceivable that any men calling themselves seamen, however frightened they might be, could spend twenty minutes bombarding a fleet of fishing boats without discovering the nature of their target.”
—on the Dogger Bank incident

The Dogger Bank incident (also known as the North Sea Incident, the Russian Outrage or the Incident of Hull) occurred when the Russian Baltic Fleet mistook some British trawlers at Dogger Bank for an Imperial Japanese Navy force.

Because of incorrect reports about the presence of Japanese torpedo boats, submarines and minefields in the North Sea, and the general nervousness of the Russian sailors, 48 harmless fishing vessels were attacked by the Russians, thousands of miles away from enemy waters.

The Russians attacked on the night of 21/22 October 1904. Three British fishermen died and a number were wounded. One sailor and a priest aboard a Russian cruiser caught in the crossfire were also killed. The incident almost led to war between Britain and Russia, but it was diplomatically defused.

The Russian fleet was barred from using the Suez Canal and British ports as a result of the incident. It thus proceeded around Africa to the Sea of Japan where it was defeated in the Battle of Tsushima.

(image source)


Miniature battles at Peasholme Park, Scarborough

Peasholm Park is an oriental themed municipal park located in the seaside town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1912 and became a favourite venue for galas, displays and exhibitions.

imageThe park is on the site of a medieval manor house of Northstead which was part of the Crown Estate from the 14th century. In 1911 Scarborough Corporation bought some land called Tuckers Field from the Duchy of Lancaster to create a public park. The park was used for aquatic displays, musical performances and evening fireworks.

The Naval Warfare event, The Battle of Peasholm, has been played out for half an hour three times a week during the summer season for over 80 years. The model boats used are mostly man powered earning the fleet the title of “The smallest manned navy in the world”.

All the boats were man powered until 1929, when electricity was introduced. Now, only the larger boats need to be steered by council employees. In the early days, the models were First World War battleships, called Dreadnoughts, and a U-boat. Then, after the Second World War, the fleet was replaced with new vessels and the battle that was recreated was the Battle of the River Plate.

Photo Gallery: Naval Warfare at Peasholm Park


This Week In Wrecks

1864:  The USS Housatonic becomes the first ship in history to be sunk by a submarine when the Confederate vessel H.L. Hunley rams her with a spar torpedo.  The Hunley is lost herself while retreating.

1944:  The US Navy sinks over 30 ships in Operation Hailstone, a concerted attack on Japanese forces  at Truk Island.  Included among the lost ships is the Fujikawa Maru, now a dive site.  (pictured full size)

– brought to you by fuckyeahwrecks

OMD – Dazzle Ships / Stanlow, Live 2008 London

imageDazzle Camouflage was first used on ships in World War One, designed to confuse and disrupt visual rangefinding, making it difficult to hit and sink a ship with artillery, which was very trendy at the time. If you’ve ever used an old film camera and focused until the two images line up correctly, you’ll understand how this worked on old military rangefinders.

Looking back on these ships today they seem almost like massive works of art, not giant machines dodging death and destruction on the high seas…

More Dazzle Ship images on Lost At Sea NYC

Dazzle Ships by OMD released in 1983, sleeve designed by Peter Saville – Inspired by a print by Edward Wadsworth, one of the artists that were charged with applying the dazzle designs created by Norman Wilkinson and his team.

also: OMD – Silent Running


Cats of War

Monkey Fist

Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang.

Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at [email protected]. She can also out-belch any man.

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