Whitby Raid, 16 December 1914

The Whitby Raid, 16 December 1914, was the final part of the German navy’s raid on the Yorkshire Coast of 15-16 December. As the German raiding force had approached the Yorkshire Coast it had split in two. The southern force, consisting of the battlecruisers Derfflinger and Von der Tann, and the light cruiser Kolberg had bombarded Scarborough, while the northern force had attacked at Hartlepool.

SMS Von der Tann soon after completion
SMS Von der Tann
soon after completion

Having finished at Scarborough, the southern force then headed north to rejoin the Hartlepool force, prior to withdrawing back across the North Sea. North of Scarborough the North York Moors reach the sea, and the next town is Whitby, just under twenty miles to the north west and half way to Hartlepool.

The undefended town of Whitby became the German’s next target. As they passed the town Derfllinger and Von der Tann fired fifty rounds at the signal station and the town. The bombardment began just after 9 a.m. and lasted for ten minutes, before the Germans continued towards their rendezvous. This was the least costly of the raids – only three people were killed, compared to 18 at Scarborough and cost to 100 at Hartlepool.

This was the last attack during the raid on the Yorkshire coast. The German’s escape route led through a gap in the coastal minefields they had laid earlier in the year off the Tyne and the Humber, and so having come back together their priority was to escape through this gap before the British squadrons sent on in response to the raid arrived. Through a combination of poor visibility, luck and poor signalling on the part of the Royal Navy the German squadron was indeed able to escape.

Naval Battles of the First World War, Geoffrey Bennett . Although this was first published in the 1960s it is still a good account of the major surface clashes of the First World War, looking at the early clashes in the world's oceans and the series of battles in the North Sea, ending with Jutland. The final part of the book looks at the U-boat war, although not in as much detail as the earlier surface sections. [read full review]
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Official History of the War, Naval Operations Vol. II, Sir Julian Corbett. Volume two of five in the British Official History of the First World War at sea covers the naval attack on the Dardanelles and early months of the Gallipoli campaign. On the home front it includes the German raid on the Yorkshire coast of December 1914 and the battle of Dogger Bank [see more]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 September 2007), Whitby Raid, 16 December 1914 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/raid_whitby1914.html

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