Hartlepool hosts Royal Artillery anniversary parade

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Hartlepool's historic Heugh Gun Battery museum has played host to a ceremony marking the 300th anniversary of the Royal Artillery.

A baton shaped like a shell that has travelled all over the world over the last year as part of the tercentenary came to Hartlepool for the event.

Hartlepool mayor Mary Fleet (third from left) with members of 5 Regiment Royal Artillery and Royal Artillery Association branches at the Heugh Gun Battery parade

Hartlepool mayor Mary Fleet (third from left) with members of 5 Regiment Royal Artillery and Royal Artillery Association branches at the Heugh Gun Battery parade

Serving Royal Artillery soldiers from a regiment based at Catterick, known as The Yorkshire Gunners, joined forces with regiment veterans from associations from across the North East at this morning's parade.

The Heugh Gun Battery was chosen as one of only a handful of places in the country to receive the baton because of the role it played in defending Hartlepool during the First World War bombardment on December 16, 1914.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hart, commanding officer of 5 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: "It is with great pleasure to bring the baton to this place which is riddled with history.

"It is the site of the only World War One battle to take place on British soil and of the first British soldier killed in the Great War."

Mary Fleet taking the salute from the 5 Regiment Royal Artillery

Mary Fleet taking the salute from the 5 Regiment Royal Artillery

The Hartlepool branch of the Royal Artillery Association applied to host an event to mark the important anniversary.

Branch secretary Tug Wilson said: "I think we were very lucky to get it. There were lots of applications but we were one of the only branches of the Royal Artillery Association that is hosting the baton.

"It is because of the history of the gun battery that we bid for it and got it for the North East region."

Members from the Hartlepool, Sunderland, Tyneside and Elswick Royal Artillery Association branches took part in the parade with standards.

The baton was presented to Hartlepool mayor Councillor Mary Fleet who spoke of the battery's significance.

Diane Stephens, manager of the Heugh Gun Battery museum, said: "I think it was important that it came to the battery because of our connections with the Royal Artillery.

"It has been a brilliant morning. It was really nice to see real soldiers parade on our parade ground."

On leaving Hartlepool, the baton was passed to other Royal Artillery regiments based in the North East before being taken to Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday morning.

It will be presented to the Queen at the Royal Artillery's headquarters in Larkhill, Wiltshire, next Thursday.

Mr Wilson, who is also president of the Royal Artillery Association Northern Region, has been invited to attend.