That was the week: Battleships outside Hartlepool bedroom window

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MRS Orde looked out of her bedroom window and was shocked and surprised to see three German warships.

“They were so close to the shore that I could have thrown a ball onto them,” she told the Mail 50 years later.

The first objective of the three battlecruisers was to destroy the Heugh Gun Battery but the first three shells had been targeted a little too far to the left and scored direct hits on the Orde family home, Ocean House, in Moor Terrace.

Fortunately Mrs Orde – her first name was not given in Mail’s report in 1964 – had not been staring idly at the Blucher and her consorts.

As the first flames flickered from their gun turrets she gathered her two children up and headed for the cellar.

Five minutes later that bedroom with the view of the cruisers was wrecked, along with every other room in the house – except for the cellar.

Meanwhile Mr H Orde was looking after his cabinet-making business when he heard the bombardment begin.

In 1964 he remembered: “I dashed back up to the house and got their just as the bombardment was over.

“I came in the back way and thought my wife had left. Just then she came out of the cellar with the children.”

After a relieved reunion the Ordes, who were living in the town’s Carlton Terrace in 1964, began to look at the damage and discovered some remarkable things had happened.

One room was blown to smithereens, with the exception of a recessed wall altar which, with its statues, crucifix and and flower vases, was not even scratched.

In the kitchen pans and cutlery had been welded together by the heat.

The hall was split wide open by a shell but a straw hat which had been hanging on a peg was still there long after the last shot had been fired.

Mrs Orde, who was 90 in 1964, recalled that their wrecked home became quite a tourist attraction.

She said: “Hundreds of people came to see it and take photographs.

“The fact that it was still standing after three shell hits showed it must have been pretty strongly built.”

She and her husband had all their photos of the havoc enlarged and bound up into three volumes, one of which they kept and other other two given to their children who had survived the ordeal, H W Orde of Granville Avenue, Hartlepool, and Mrs M W Reeves, on Tunbridge Wells.

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Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.