Shrapnel book

Shrapnel book which is a poignant reminder of 'The Bombardment'.
Shrapnel book which is a poignant reminder of 'The Bombardment'.
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Written by Jeannie Swales

On December 16 1914, German warships fired hundreds of shells on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool, an offensive which became known as ‘The Bombardment’. Scarborough was under bombardment for around half an hour and there were few streets or families in the town left untouched by the destruction.

Along the east coast, hundreds died, many were injured, and buildings and homes were destroyed. This attack caused great public outcry and ‘Remember Scarborough’ became the slogan for an impassioned recruitment drive.

Dunollie House at 31 Filey Road, Scarborough, suffered several direct hits during the bombardment. It was later determined that three shells hit the front of the building and some 13 to the rear.

Postman Alfred Beale was killed near the front porch at Dunollie while he was delivering the morning mail. Inside the house the owner, former sheriff of the county John Turner, was awakened by the explosions and went in search for his loyal maid of 10 years, Margaret Briggs. Sadly, he found her body in the library, which had taken a couple of direct hits. The room was devastated, full of broken glass, furniture, debris and smoke.

This book is a poignant reminder of that terrible day. It belonged to the library at Dunollie House and was recovered in the aftermath of the bombardment complete with a piece of shrapnel embedded in it. A local carpenter made the box frame to store and display the book.

Scarborough Museums Trust was recently contacted by George Brown of Leeds who has kindly loaned the book to appear in the new exhibition about the bombardment to open at Scarborough Art Gallery in June 2014. He was given the book by his grandmother, who lived in Scarborough and survived the bombardment.

The trust is leading the ‘Remember Scarborough’ project to commemorate the centenary of the event. Working with partner museums and organisations, there will be events in Scarborough and across the region. Esther Graham has recently been appointed as project officer and is hoping to hear from members of the community with stories and memories they’d like to share.

Esther says: “We’d like to encourage the local community to get involved and be a part of the project. If anyone has anything they’d like to contribute (or donate!), be it objects, family photographs or stories, we’d love to hear from them. We hope to collect memories from people who may have heard relatives talk about the war or who know some family tales from the bombardment.”

Esther can be contacted on (01723) 384515 or esther.graham@smtrust.uk.com, or visit the trust’s website at www.scarboroughmuseumstrust.org.uk.