Pay tribute to Hartlepool’s World War One sailors

OLD HARTLEPOOL: The town at around the time poor Bridget died.
OLD HARTLEPOOL: The town at around the time poor Bridget died.

MEMORY Lane readers are being urged to pay tribute to those lost at sea during World War One – by telling their stories.

Almost 300 Hartlepool sailors – including Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and fishermen – were killed and more than 400 local ships destroyed during the conflict.

Now a Heritage Lottery-funded project, Heroism & Heartbreak: True Tales from the Hartlepools at War, has been launched to uncover the stories of these sailors.

“We would love to hear from anyone with a photo, letter or diary from a family member who served at sea during World War One,” said project manager Gary Green.

“Project volunteers and library staff will then help you track down your ancestor’s war record and recount their stories to create a lasting family memorial.”

At the outbreak of war the Hartlepools were major North-East ports – home to thriving shipping companies, shipbuilding firms and fishing industries.

Almost every family had links with the sea, with many having relatives serving in the Merchant Navy, local fishing fleets or Royal Navy.

“Within this close-knit community, the loss of every local ship and crewman deeply affected a great many people,” said Gary.

“As war progressed, German U-boats and mines sank over 2,500 UK merchant ships and nearly 800 fishing vessels, with the loss of more than 17,000 lives.

“Of these, more than 400 merchant ships had either been built or owned in the town and more than 260 Hartlepool sailors lost their lives.”

The first in a series of roadshows is to be held at the Central Library on May 12, from 10am-1pm, for people interested in sharing their seafaring tales.

“We want to rediscover and retell the stories of the many brave Hartlepool sailors who lost their lives,” added Gary.

l For more information contact 01429 242909.