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.


PRINCE Charles was to be sent a hairnet by the British Safety Council as his “near Beatle haircut” was causing it “extreme worry”.

The hairnet would arrive on an illustration of Absalom hanging by his hair from a tree. The Biblical figure was killed by his enemies after being trapped by his long locks.

The council said: “Shaggy, girlish, hairdos, if imitated on the factory floor, can result in scalping and other serious head injuries.”

Other public figures drawing the council’s ire for their hairstyles included the Rolling Stones, Ken Dodd and Freddie Trueman.

• WORKERS digging foundations for a new lemonade factory at Hartlepool’s Cameron’s Brewery found a coffin and remains of a woman thought to be up to 1,000 years old.

Local historian Robert Wood told the Mail the woman was likely to have been quite old when she died, as one of the teeth was very worn.

• A DYSENTERY outbreak was expected to be confined to Haverton Hill, public health officials predicted.

So far there were 27 cases, said Dr Lalage Benham, Billingham’s medical officer.

• TWO swans who had made their home at Rossmere Park were expected to be moved to the comparative safety of the town’s Ward Jackson lake after one of them was found with a fisherman’s hook in its head.

• MAIL entertainments writer Compere profiled Peterlee group Johnny and the Jays, who were breaking with the formula of the time by including a piano in the line-up.

“It’s a natural reaction against the same old all-guitar stuff that so many pop groups churn out,” the bands drummer Barry Leith told the Mail.

• TOM Jones – advertised as “the most slap and tickle romp” although it also won an Oscar for best picture – was on offer to cinemagoers at the Essoldo, while elsewhere in Hartlepool Harry H Corbett and Eric Sykes were among the stars of The Bargee at the ABC and Susan Hayward starred in Stolen Hours at the Odeon.

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.