Hartlepool remembers Bombardment on 101st anniversary

A service to mark the 101st anniversary of the devastating Bombardment of Hartlepool has taken place.

All sections of the community came together at Redheugh Gardens, on the Headland, to pay tribute to the 130 townspeople who lost their lives on December 16, 1914, when German cruisers fired on the town.

The service for the 101st anniversary of the Bombardment took place in Redheugh Gardens

The service for the 101st anniversary of the Bombardment took place in Redheugh Gardens

Civic dignitaries, ex-forces organisations, schoolchildren and local residents turned out in force for the service early on Wednesday morning led by Reverend Verity Brown from St Hilda's Church.

The event was organised alongside the Heugh Gun Battery which defended the town during the shelling that lasted for 42 minutes and is now a museum.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright recounted the horrifying events of that day and paid tribute to the resilience of the people of the town.

Mr Wright said: "Can you imagine what 42 minutes of shells raining down upon innocent people in our town must have been like?

"The effect on or town was immense, probably the single most important day in the history of the Hartlepools, and we rose to the occasion."

The names of 32 children, some of them just babies less than a year old, who lost their lives were read out as children from local schools planted small wooden crosses with poppies on around the war memorial.

Poppy wreaths were also laid by organisations including the Royal British Legion and Royal Airforce Association (RAFA) as well as by Hartlepool Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Mary Fleet, who was joined by the mayoress Coun Sheila Griffin.

Wally Stewart, director of the Heugh Battery Museum, said of the service: "I think it went very well considering the wind was blowing badly.

"I appreciate some people couldn't hear very well but that will be taken into consideration for next year.

"There was good local support from around the Headland, it means very much to them because in many ways it is still a bit of a running sore to the people of the area that took the battering."

Pupils from Throston, St Bega's and St Helen's primary school gave readings before the Last Post sounded and a gun salute rang through the area bringing the service to a close.

A programme of events runs throughout the day at the Heugh Battery Museum including a ‘Hartlepool Remembered: Legacies of the Bombardment’ centenary project which will run a stall where people can record details of their families or community groups to be included in the Hartlepool Bombardment Centenary Scrapbook.

And on Wednesday afternoon, a new permanent display at the Museum of Hartlepool will be officially opened. It includes 130 ceramic poppies which formed part of the artwork ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London last year and a new audio-visual presentation showing the Bombardment in its proper context of the First World War and including new photographs and recently-discovered archive footage.