On British Soil: Hartlepool, 16 December, 1914


By John Sadler, published 19th November 2014

Heugh Battery, a Victorian survivor, received a new lease of life in 1908 when introduction of an improved Vickers 6-inch Mark VII gun greatly added to earlier, far less telling firepower. The Victorian pile was refurbished two years later and a pair of the new cannon installed. In 1907, the smaller Lighthouse Battery, lying a short distance south on the very tip of the Headland, was also equipped with one of these newer guns.

Wary of encountering the Royal Navy in a major fight, the German Home Fleet had, in 1914, adopted a more peripheral strategy involving U-boats, mine-laying and coastal raiding. In November, Great Yarmouth had been shelled, a mere pinprick but this emboldened Admiral von Ingenohl to devise a more ambitious plan for an attack on Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby. These exposed east-coast ports were sufficiently remote from any major concentration of British warships and the raiders would comprise only a portion of the Kaiser's squadron, the remainder lurking in wait to ambush any rash pursuers...

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