A RESPECTFUL silence fell over Hartlepool today as thousands reflected on the sacrifice made by services personnel.
Residents gathered around the town’s war memorial to reflect on all that was won and lost in conflicts around the world.
The town’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations saw crowds turn out to pay their respects to those who paid with their lives in battle, and also those who were left behind.
There were similar scenes at the memorial on the Headland, and in Peterlee and East Durham villages.
At Hartlepool town centre, a parade of military and community groups headed down Victoria Road into Victory Square, ready for a service led by civic Chaplain, the Reverend Norman Shave.
Rev Shave said: “It’s a particularly poignant time to gather, 100 years after the start of the First World War.”
He urged the crowds to remember “the courage, devotion, duty and the self-sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces, the toil, endurance and suffering of those who are not in uniform, the support of those who sent us help from afar or who came and stood by our side”.
He added: “Let us remember those who were wounded in the fight, those who perished in the air raids at home, those who fell in battle, and are buried at sea or in some corner of a foreign field, and especially those who we have known and loved whose place is forever in our hearts.
“Let us remember those who are our enemies, whose homes and hearts are as bereft as ours, whose dead lie also in a living tomb of everlasting remembrance.
“Let us remember those who came back, those whose lives still bear the scars of war, those who lost sight or limbs or reason, those who lost faith in God and hope for humanity.”
Rev Shave repeated the well-known words of the war poem by Laurence Binyon that ends: “We will remember them.”
Veteran Edgar Atkinson, 90, of the Tunstall area, turned out with his medals proudly pinned to his chest.
Mr Atkinson, a former Natwest bank manager, served in France and Belgium in the Second World War and lost friends in the conflict.
The dad-of-two, grandfather-of-two and great-grandfather-of-two, said: “Today means a lot, it brings it all back.”
A lone bugler played The Last Post before a two-minute’s silence was held.
Then there was wreath-laying by civic dignitaries and representatives of local organisations.
These included Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, ceremonial mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher and leader of the council, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Representatives from the Royal British Legion, armed forces, and police and fire services also laid wreaths on the memorial.
Military veteran associations also placed poppy wreaths on the stone monument, alongside young cadets and community groups, and members of the public.
Hymns included O God Our Help In Ages Past, God That Madest Earth And Heaven and The Lord’s Prayer.
The National Anthem was played before the organisations involved took part in a march-past.