Poignant service

A POIGNANT service attended by dozens of people was held to mark the 98th anniversary of the bombardment of Hartlepool.

Residents and town dignitaries joined together yesterday morning to pay their respects to the 150 people who died in the bombardment or later as a result of injuries suffered during the First World War attack.

ON GUARD: Rob Langham, member of the 18th (service) Battalion DLI guards the Headland War Memorial during the 98th anniversary of the bombardment of Hartlepool

ON GUARD: Rob Langham, member of the 18th (service) Battalion DLI guards the Headland War Memorial during the 98th anniversary of the bombardment of Hartlepool

Meanwhile, local schoolchildren from St John Vianney RC Primary School released balloons in tribute to the 37 children who died on December 16, 1914.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said the service was particularly poignant this year coming so soon after Friday’s shooting in Connecticut, America, which saw 20 children die.

Organisers say around 150 people attended the service, which saw volunteers from the 18th (service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry dress in First World War uniform.

The service, which started in the Memorial Gardens, on the Headland, got underway at 8.10am to mark the exact time when the Imperial German Navy ships started firing 1,150 shells at the town.

Residents and invited guests then made their way to the Heugh Gun Battery where another service was held indoors, including readings from town primary school pupils.

John Southcott, chairman of the Heugh Battery Museum, said: “As always it was an emotional service and very well attended.

“The bombardment is a significant part of the town’s history and it had an incredible affect on the town.”

Mr Southcott also confirmed there are plans already under way to build interest in the service ahead of the 100 year anniversary of the bombardment in 2014.

The Heugh Gun Battery is working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council, Camerons Brewery, Hartlepool United Football Club and also the German Navy.

Mr Southcott said the German Navy is keen to play a significant part and it could even involve a ship from their fleet heading to Hartlepool.

The event was organised by Andy Shepherd, outreach officer at the Heugh Gun Battery while Reverend Chris Collison, of St Hilda’s Church, conducted the service.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond and vice-chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, councillor Kevin Cranney, also attended along with other councillors.

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