How the shelling of Hartlepool also shook Canada

Museums manager Mark Simmons shows some of the remnants and documents from the Bombardment of Hartlepool
Museums manager Mark Simmons shows some of the remnants and documents from the Bombardment of Hartlepool

THE tragedy which hit Hartlepool in 1914 sent shock waves all over the world.

Many ex-pats from the town were living in Canada, and at least 200 of them had settled in Toronto.

MUSEUMS manager Mark Simmons shows some of the remnants and documents from the Bombardment of Hartlepool

MUSEUMS manager Mark Simmons shows some of the remnants and documents from the Bombardment of Hartlepool

But their lives were changed forever by events thousands of miles away.

When they found out that Hartlepool had been shelled, they formed a group called The Hartlepools Society. The reaction of the Canadians to Hartlepool’s plight is now being researched by two groups of people on different sides of “The Pond”.

In England, Hartlepool Borough Council’s museums manager Mark Simmons is hard at work finding out more.

So are the people of Alberta, in Canada, and between them, they would love to shed light on some of those who worked so hard to support grief-stricken Hartlepool in 1914.

News of the Canadian interest was first revealed in the Northern Daily Mail, the predecessor of the Hartlepool Mail, on January 7,1915.

Mark said: “It reported that Mayor J.R. Fryer of West Hartlepool had received a letter from a Mr Rowntree Moody, a former Hartlepudlian now living in Toronto, Canada.

“Mr Moody wrote that he had formed a ‘Hartlepools Society’ in Toronto on December 26, 1914, and that the majority of the 200 former Hartlepudlians living in the city had joined the society.

“The letter started: ‘Your Worship – We, former residents of the Hartlepools, in meeting assembled in the City of Toronto, Canada, desire to give expression to the feeling of heartfelt sympathy we have for the people of our old home town in the loss of precious life and the destruction of valuable property sustained through the wanton raid of the German Fleet’.”

It led to a fund being set up to help the families of the dead and wounded. It continued until around 1920.

Mark added: “Widely reported in the Canadian and American press was the following story, repeated in the Northern Daily Mail of January 3, 1915.”

It said: “Mrs S.A. Taylor, for over 20 years a resident of West Hartlepool and lately residing in Manitoba, Canada, died on December 18th from shock, after reading the news of the Hartlepools bombardment.”

Reports from the time had Mrs Taylor possibly living in Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba.

The Mail is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War throughout 2014.

A series of commemorative supplements have been published in the paper, with coverage continuing until the centenary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool in December.

If you have a story about a local relative who served in the conflict then please contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239380.

l Next week: Mystery of a Hartlepool man who emigrated to Canada and died in France.