A REMINDER of when death rained from the skies over coastal towns during the First World War has come to light.

In December 1914 German warships fired hundreds of shells on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool, an offensive which became known as “The Bombardment.”

Almost 140 people died and many hundreds were injured in the attacks, which caused widespread outrage.

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The death of so many innocents sparked an impassioned recruitment drive by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, but also led to other propaganda opportunities.

And for some time, an unknown person - who some have suggested may have been Gordon Selfridge, founder of the famous department store - had been producing spoof Iron Crosses bearing the names of cultural sites damaged by the German army to ridicule the enemy.

And shortly after the bombardment, crosses with the names of the three towns attacked appeared – “Hartlepools, Scarboro, and Whitby.”

One of those crosses was spotted at a sale in a Scarborough auction – and local museum chiefs were able to snap it up for just £65.

And now it has become a permanent part of the local museum collection – and a late addition to the new exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery, Remember Scarborough – a title taken from recruitment posters produced after the bombardment.

“We couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted the cross ,” said the chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, Debbie Seymour.

“We just had to have it for the Scarborough collections – it’s such an important part of the town’s history.”