National recognition bid for historic bombardment centenary

Last week's anniversary ceremony of the bombardment of Hartlepool
Last week's anniversary ceremony of the bombardment of Hartlepool

HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright is leading calls for the centenary of the historic bombardment of the town to be given national recognition.

A total of 118 people, including 37 children, lost their lives when German battleships opened fire off the coast of Hartlepool on December 16, 1914.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

The town was the first place on mainland Britain to be attacked in the First World War and its impact is still remembered today.

With the bombardment’s 100th anniversary fast approaching Mr Wright has raised the issue in Parliament.

He said he would like the centenary to be given national prominence and called on the Secretary of State for Defence to attend the annual remembrance service on the town’s historic Headland.

Writing in his weekly column today Mr Wright said: “This Monday, it was Defence Questions in the House of Commons.

“I asked a question to the minister in terms of what the Government will do to support this important event for the town?

“I am also trying to secure a debate in the House of Commons for December 16, 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the bombardment in Parliament on the actual day.

“I think it would be appropriate and fitting for the Secretary of State for Defence to attend the morning ceremony in 2014.

“I hope the Government will agree to this, given the significance of the day to the history of our country, not just the town.”

The seaborne attack lasted 42 terrifying minutes when 1,000 shells rained down on the town.

Mr Wright was one of a number of civic dignitaries, residents and children who paid tribute to those who lost their lives at last week’s remembrance service.

At 8.10am, the time the first shell hit Hartlepool, the congregation fell silent and a canon was fired by the 5th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery.

People also laid wreaths at the Headland War Memorial, sung songs and released balloons in memory of the children who lost their lives in the attack.

l Mail view: Page 8

l The MP Writes: Page 12