Churchill “Joyful” Over News of “Baby Killers of Scarborough”, Letter Reveals



A recently discovered letter reveals how former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill got excited over the news about the “baby killers of Scarborough” — the bombardment of Scarborough by the Germans way back in 1914 which caused the death of many innocent British locals including children.

Churchill described the propaganda which stemmed out from the cruel deed the Germans did as  “one of the most instructive and encouraging” occurrences of WWI.

The letter, which Churchill wrote to the mayor of Scarborough after the Germans’ attack, surfaced during the commemoration of the centenary of the bombing of Scarborough December 15 of last year.

The coming British Prime Minister who led the country through the Second World War saw the mass loss of innocent lives as a great victory in driving on the British public to get more involved with the efforts during the Great War. He also commented on how the German Navy was so reckless in this said letter.

of course, the politician expressed his sorrow for the town’s bombardment and loss adding that he had nothing but admiration for Scarborough and its locals for the dignity they showed even after the sorrowful event.

He, then, proceeded to express his “joy” and excitement at how Germany would never be able to recover from the disgrace it had put itself into in the eyes of the British people and the world.

As quoted from the letter he wrote:

“But viewed in its larger aspect, the incident is one of the most instructive and encouraging that have happened in the war. 

Nothing proves more plainly the effectiveness of British naval pressure, than the frenzy of hatred aroused against us in the breast of the enemy. 

This hatred has already passed the frontiers of reason. It clouds their vision, it darkens their counsels, it convulses their movements.”

He ended his letter by writing that the stigma of the baby killers of Scarborough would brand its men and officers as sailors sail the seas.

Simply put, the politician saw the event as a great and effective propaganda in spurring British support for the Great War.

Churchill’s letter to then Scarborough Mayor Christopher Colbourne Graham was unearthed during a search for a new and major exhibit to be put on display Scarborough Art Gallery. The said presentation commemorated the unfortunate and barbaric occurrence of December 16, 1914. This was the day when German warships entered British coast to attack Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool.

The said bombardment resulted to a great loss of innocent lives the youngest being John Shields Ryalls who was only fourteen months old. It was also the first attack to have occurred on British soil.

A great public outcry followed the bombardment and the propaganda call Remember Scarborough became a common rallying call for the Allied troops during the Great War.

Churchill was the first one to coin the term “baby killers of Scarborough” which he used in this letter.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE