The legacy of true Hartlepool heroes

A Hartlepool war hero’s astonishing bravery has been revealed in a brand new exhibition.

Second Lieutenant Robbie Angles stormed the German trenches in the First World War despite a hail of machine gun fire and mortar rounds.

THE headstone of Robbie Angles

THE headstone of Robbie Angles

The foe even engulfed Lt Angles with the fire from flame throwers - and still they fought on.

His heroics won him the Military Cross and he survived the battle with brutal wounds.

But medics took a month to get him back to Blighty, such was the treacherous conditions of war, and the very day he got home, he tragically died of his wounds.

Now, Robbie’s story - and that of five other Hartlepool soldiers - is being told in a new exhibition called Hartlepool At War.

The Military Cross and ribbon awarded to Robbie Angles

The Military Cross and ribbon awarded to Robbie Angles

It will run in the Central Library in York Road until Friday, August 29, and is a dramatic eye-opener of the horrors of war and how it tore families apart.

It is thanks to an anonymous local historian that the exhibition can take place. He has provided the library with a wealth of material.

Then, it was down to the library staff Sandra McKay, Anne Flounders and Judith Hall to put it all together in a display which is already catching the eye.

Sandra said: “It has been a team effort. We had to read through all of the information so that we had a feel for the people in the exhibition.”

Arthur Bennett

Arthur Bennett

The display commemorates the efforts and sacrifice of soldiers during the First World War.

It scrutinises the war through the fates of Tom Wilson, of Dent Street, brothers Horace Bennett, Edward Bennett, Arthur Campion Bennett, and Reginald Bennett – all sons of a vicar at Stranton Church, and Robbie Angles, from Mulgrave Road.

Sandra said the project was part of a programme to record the war in the library over the next four years. She urged other people with war memorabilia and photographs to get in touch.

“There are a lot of people out there with tales to tell and with photographs such as the ones in this display.”

Edward Bennett taken at Stranton Vicarage, West Hartlepool, in 1915

Edward Bennett taken at Stranton Vicarage, West Hartlepool, in 1915

The fates of the six men were hugely varied.

• Robbie Angles was commissioned in June 1917 as a second lieutenant in the York and Lancashire Regiment. He was involved in an attack on German positions at the Ypres Salient on October 12, 1917.

He led his men through mortar fire, flame thrower attacks and a hail of machine gun bullets. Twelve of his men died, 77 were wounded and four were missing.

Robbie was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery but he was badly injured. It took a month to get him home to the Manchester Military Hospital. He died as he reached home on November 13, 1917. He was 21 years old.

• Tom Wilson was a pre-war DLI reservist who answered the call to arms in August 1914, at the outbreak of war.

He was shot in the left eye the same year and later killed at Hooge in Belgium on the Menin Road in August 1915.

Horace Marshall Bennett

Horace Marshall Bennett

• Horace Bennett was an artillery officer who survived the war.

• Like his brother, Edward Bennett was a staff officer who survived beyond the war years. He was so much in demand, a request was made for him to join the Department of the Controller in the Admiralty.

• Arthur Campion Bennett was a solicitor before the war, working from an office in Church Street. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Artillery and lived to tell the tale.

By 1918, he was a Major but a document from the War Office showed he was unfit for duty due to the “ill health” he suffered in battle. Mystery still surrounds what that ill health was.

• Fourth brother Reginald Bennett, a second lieutenant with the Gloucester Pioneers, was involved in the attack on Thiepval in September 1916.

It was one of the most brutal battles of the war and Thiepval was a key target.

He was killed in a savage battle.

Anyone with photographs to donate to future exhibitions can contact the library on (01429) 242909.

Reginald Bennett, top left

Reginald Bennett, top left

Reginald Bennett who was killed in action at The Somme with the 13th Gloucesters

Reginald Bennett who was killed in action at The Somme with the 13th Gloucesters

An exhibition of pictures on the Bombardment of Hartlepool is on show at the Central Library. Pictured, from left, are organisers Anne Flounders, Sandra McKay and Judith Hall.

An exhibition of pictures on the Bombardment of Hartlepool is on show at the Central Library. Pictured, from left, are organisers Anne Flounders, Sandra McKay and Judith Hall.