“WE will always remember them”.
That was the message from dignataries as a lasting memorial to those who died in the Bombardment of the Hartlepools was unveiled 100 years to the day since the German attack.
With around 400 people watching on, Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, and Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of Durham had the honour of officially unveiling the memorial at the site where the shells struck.
There were moving scenes throughout the 45-minute ceremony as the 130 people who died that day were remembered.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “One hundred years ago today started off as a normal day, but ended in terror.
“Today has been a very emotional day, it has been a day of reflection.
“It is our obligation to remember a day like this, and it is our obligation to to ensure that we always remember the people of the Hartlepools who died in the Bombardment.”
The Lord Lieutenant of Durham added: “I’m very honoured to be here today to unveil this new memorial.
“I would like to pay tribute to Hartlepool Borough Council and everyone else who worked on this project.
“We are all connected to this war, either through family or by the way it changed our community.
“Today we mark the day where 130 people died as a result of the Bombardment, and this is a fitting tribute and one which ensures we always remember them.”
After the memorial was unveiled, trbutes were laid at the base of the stone monument by Armed Forces representatives, the Friends of North Cemetery and then by a representative of descendants or relatives of those who were killed.
As the sun shone down on the Headland, there were touching scenes as youngsters from St Aidan’s Primary School lined up to plant a ceramic poppy next to a wooden cross as each of the victims’ names was read out.
The poppies which the pupils used were ones from the Tower of London display last month, and will eventually go on display in the Museum of Hartlepool.
The Loyalty Road school was chosen as that was where Theo Jones - the first person to be killed that fateful day in 1914 - was the assistant headmaster.
As each name was read out, it was fitting that many of the victims were around the same age as the youngsters paying tribute to them.
Kate Fox, a poet who has been working with students from Dyke House Sports and Technology College for the last few weeks, led the youngsters in reciting their poem, entitled “Listen To What They Know”, and then Coun Akers-Belcher and the Lord Lieutenant placed a time capsule into the ground adjacent to the memorial.
The Last Post was paid by a bugler prior to a minute’s silence which brought the event to a close.