A Postcard of the Baptist Chapel after the Hartlepool Bombardment

This week’s postcard is not in the best condition, the main image being badly scratched. It is however very interesting historically and so still worthy of inclusion. In December 1914 the war came directly to Britain in a way that had never happened before. The battleships of the German high Seas Fleet sailed out and bombarded the coastal towns of Eastern England on 16th December 1914. Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool were amongst those shelled and this image is of the aftermath of that bombardment and the damage caused to the Baptist chapel in Hartlepool:SKM_C284e18110611560 - Copy (3)The back of the postcard has a fascinating message, probably written by an eye witness:SKM_C284e18110611561The text reads:

Gone right through this chapel. Destroyed all in it. Organ and everything and taken the roof of the house at the other end

The damage up and down the coast was extensive and 114 civilians lost their lives. The Headlands Baptist church in the postcard above became one of the iconic images of the raid, the idea that the Germans were capable of destroying a place of worship feeding into the propaganda of the period which portrayed them as heathen barbarians with no respect for religion or culture. One eyewitness was passing the Baptist Chapel when it was hit:

We ran past the church yard wall and the Baptist Chapel. One bang and the church organ came out through the wall. We reversed and finished down Northgate.

Lt Colonel Rowe commanded the small detachment of soldiers guarding the town and left this description:

The streets of the old town suffered terribly, the gas works was destroyed and one of the big ship building yards damaged, but the docks and other yards were not touched. Churches, hospitals, workhouses and schools were all struck. Little children going to school and babies in their mothers arms were killed

There is still a Baptist Chapel on the same site, however the building pictured above has been replaced with a modern and smaller structure.

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