Looking back: Harwich and the First World War

Looking back: Harwich and the First World War

Looking back: Harwich and the First World War

First published in News

WHEN war broke out and Britain's involvement was announced by the town crier on August 4, Harwich changed.

The very next morning residents lined the quayside and the 300 boys attending HMS Ganges across the water stood at Shotley Pier to give troops of the Harwich Force a rousing send off as they went to sea.

Consisting of about 40 destroyers under the command of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, the force was split into two flotillas, one of which, led by the HMS Amphion, was tasked with patrolling near the Suffolk coast with destroyers HMS Lance and HMS Landrail closest inland - on August 6 they sunk a German minelayer.

The war also saw the Great Eastern Hotel on Harwich Quay was turned into a hospital with the hotel furniture removed and replaced with hospital beds and equipment.

The Grange, now the Harwich and Dovercourt High School sixth form, was one of many other buildings in the town taken over by the Government as hospitals or convalescent facilities at the time.

And while the town was spared from much enemy action during the war there were some very close calls.

In 1915 a bomb landed on Tyler Street injuring 24 people and an unexploded bomb landed near to St Nicholas Church.

When war ended on November 11, Harwich became a base for the surrender of German submarines.

The part of the River Stour occupied by the boats became known locally as U-boat Avenue.

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