THE remarkable memories of Bombardment survivors have been unearthed.
And for the very first time, we can share those dramatic recollections thanks to recordings shared with the Hartlepool Mail courtesy of the BBC and Tees Archives.
The 1970s interviews on audio tapes describe in incredible detail, the horror and terrifying effect of war.
MARY MARKHAM was one of those to live through it all, even though she was blown off her feet by the bombs.
She said: “We got up that morning. It would be about 8am and there was all these guns going.
“I said ‘eeeh grandma, can you hear the guns.
“It’s the Germans,” she said. “The enemy.”
“She must have known. She got up and she come downstairs. She said to me ‘get the breakfast ready, Mary.”
“The guns were going. I said ‘come on grandma, howay get a cup of tea’. She sat down at the table and before I knew where we were, she got up and she walked up to the front door and I followed her.
“When I followed her, I knew no more. I just felt myself go, you know. I thought I was killed. I thought I was dead. Then, when I came to, I could see something trickling down my face.
“I crawled out of the passage and over my grandmother but I didn’t know it was her. The front of the press had blown out.
“I crawled to the tap. I went to the kitchen and into the yard. And I washed my face.
“I thought I’ll go down the cellar. I’ll be better down there. I crawled down the cellar steps and I looked up and I saw somebody talking. I thought it was my grandmother.
“I shouted and I managed to crawl up, as bad as I was. I crawled into the passage. When I got there, there was two soldiers.
“They took me up to the doctors and they were there all piled up. No-one knows who was there. It was a shame.”
MARY MORRIS witnessed the horror in the street for herself - the horror of a mother and son both killed within seconds of each other.
She described: “They all started running out and they were calling ‘come on, get away. It’s the Germans.’ And it was.
“At the top of Elma Street, there was a boy. He was only 14. He was going to the shop across the road to buy something.
“He was blown to pieces, blown to pieces, and his mother came out to look for him and she went and died. That was terrible, that morning.”
MRS JOBLING, whose first name is not known, watched as scores of fleeing people headed for the countryside with their bedding in their hands - desperate to escape the bombs.
“I was getting ready to go to school We heard this noise coming along. I thought it was thunder. Mother had brought us up to be very frightened of thunder and lightning. She used to be scared and everybody else with her.
“We had to hide underneath the stairs and not go anywhere where the windows were. We heard this thundering going on and waited for the thunder to finish before going off to school.
“It was not very long before we saw crowds of people coming up Wansbeck Gardens. They said there was going to be an invasion. We could not believe it was possible.
“They were taking bedding up and all sorts and they were going into the fields for safety.
“We didn’t go. We didn’t go out, we just looked out of the window.”
THOMAS HORSFIELD heard the shells coming over his house before watching hordes of people in the road, shouting that the Germans were about to invade.
He said: “I was on the road to Hart School at the time. We saw all the shells coming over.
“We heard the whistling of the shells and saw different ones explode in the fields. And then we saw Jerry move along and he took a route out to sea. And the people of the town here were coming on the road and they told us Jerry was going to invade, but they didn’t shift us.
“There was no such thing as running out the door.”
A group of Hartlepool students were given access to the accounts while working with performance poet Kate Fox as part of the BBC Outreach project.
To bring their project to a close, the students will read a poem at the exact site of the shelling this morning.
• To hear the tapes in full, visit the Hartlepool Mail website at www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk
• BBC Tees Local Live on www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/tees will carry short updates throughout today telling the story of the bombardment as it happened. It will include reports of how the events unfolded, archive material and Outreach project.