Obituary: North Sea to Bombard the Coastal Towns of Scarborough,
Byline: William Roberts
WHEN Kaiser Bill sent four warships to the North Sea to bombard the coastal towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool, the 14-year-old boy realised that this war was serious.
Eighty-six people in his own town of Hartlepool were killed and many more wounded in the action, which was intended to lure the Royal Navy into battle.
The following year, William Roberts's father was killed on the Somme and, in common with so many other Britons, he decided that the Boche had to be defeated.
But the Durham Light Infantry told him that at 16 he was too young to fight. He should come back in a year. Instead, Roberts applied to join the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force (formed 1918), immediately after his 17th birthday.
He was accepted, but he was still too young to go to France. But behind the daring pilots were their maintenance crews, ensuring that the flimsy machines were air-worthy.
Roberts began at Farnborough working on the engines being modified and tested for action. Among these were the legendary Sopwith Camels and Bristol Scout fighter biplanes. …