Plaques are put up to honour victims of the Bombardment in Scarborough

The plaques remember the youngest and oldest of those killed 107 years ago

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 2:06 pm
Residents and Supportres join organiser Wayne Murray to pay their respects to victims of the Scarborough bombardment that occurred December 16 1914

Memorial plaques have been unveiled at the locations of the youngest and oldest victims of the Scarborough Bombardment, 107 years to the day when German naval shells rained down on the town.

The plaques have been put up at two houses on Westbourne Park, Scarborough, by social history museum founder Wayne Murray, whose From Scardeburg to Scarborough collection of artefacts is housed in the Market Vaults.

He was helped by friends and supporters of the museum, which has put up other plaques around town marking victims.

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Residents and Supporters join organiser Wayne Murray to pay their respects to victims of the Scarborough bombardment that occurred December 16 1914

The latest two commemorate 14-month-old John Shields Ryalls and 65-year-old John Hall, the youngest and oldest victims.

On December 16 1914 two German battlecruisers, the Derrflinger and the Von der Tann, opened fire on the town shortly after 8am.

That morning 17 civilians were killed (another two died later from their injuries) and 200 were injured. They were the first civilian casualties of the First World War. The ships also targeted Hartlepool and Whitby.

Last Thursday, at 8am, Mr Murray held a silence and unveiled plaques on the road where John Shields Ryalls and John Hall lived.

Wayne with homeowner Claire Freeman

John Hall, architect, Alderman of the Borough of Scarborough and Justice of the Peace, was upstairs getting dressed at his 28 Westbourne Park home when the raid began.

A shell crashed through the dining room of his house and exploded; the force of the blast was directed upwards.

The floor opened up beneath John’s feet and he was mortally wounded, suffering horrific injuries.

His daughter found him following his cries for help and she raced out to get a doctor.

The plaque in memory of John Hall

An ambulance came and he was rushed to hospital, but sadly died on the stretcher as they were carrying him up the steps.

A few doors away, 22 Westbourne Park was the home of the youngest victim of that day’s events – John Shields Ryalls, whose death prompted Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, to accuse the Germans of being “the baby killers of Scarborough”.

The plaque to young John also commemorates Bertha McEntyre, aged 42, who died in the same house.

Mr Murray said of Thursday’s commemoration: “It went well, about a dozen or so people turned up.

The plaque in memory of John Shields Ryalls and his nurse Bertha McEntyre

“We put up the plaques for two reasons, number one, to remind people of the past. When people pass on the street they’ll be able to look up and see that that person lived there and what their place was in Scarborough’s history.

“And number two, to keep history alive. Take the Bombardment for example, not everyone knows what happened and it helps to keep reminding them.

“We unveil a plaque every year. Next year it will be for George Harland Taylor, who was just 15 when he died.

“He was killed by shrapnel while going out to buy the local morning paper and was the only Boy Scout to be killed on British soil during World War One.”

The social history museum is hoping to move to part of the old church on the corner of St Sepulchre Street and Globe Street in the new year.

For details of how you can help, see its Facebook page.