Our witnesses of war shared their stories

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AS a young girl she felt the town shudder under the bombardment of German battleships and saw an enemy airship consumed by flames in Middleton Road.

Fifty years later, Mrs Dimmock, then living in Lowdale Lane, Hart Station, was one of a number of readers who wrote to the Mail with their memories of those dark days.

Mrs Dimmock recalled that her younger sister was just two at the time and cried “Mammy isn’t it windy?” as all the windows of their fruit shop in Belk Street were rattling due to the bombardment.

She went on: “We trekked like everybody to the Park, where I met someone I knew and they told us to go home as all the oranges and apples from the shop were in the street.

“It was a pitiful sight when we got back. The Bell family had five casualties. Mrs Brennan was killed and Mrs Hardisty was hit and was lying outside her door.”

Mrs Dimmock’s father, Jack Beal, was a well-known entertainer in the town and wrote a parody about the raid which he sang all over northern England.

He also sold copies for a penny a sheet and gave the proceeds, around £500, to the Red Cross.

The family moved to Middleton Road in time to see the Zeppelin shot down.

Mrs Dimmock recalled: “My dad brought us out to see it. He tossed his hat in the air shouting, “Burn you devils, burn!”

E M Murray, of Wharton Terrace, also had a letter published in the Mail 50 years ago this week, recalling his late father, William “Barney” Hodgson, who stood sentry at the Swedish Church on the morning of the bombardment, sending children back home.

“He got direct hits twice,” wrote Mr Murray. “We know he was very badly injured because I was the one who had to dispose of his clothes.

“I have never forgotten the sight of them.”

Mr Murray did not know where his father was until the next day – when his brother had to go to Cameron Hospital to identify the corpse.

The article was illustrated with photos provided by readers, including one of Lieutenant V Pyott, of the Royal Flying Corps, credited with shooting down the Zeppelin.Soulsby,

T O Soulsby, of Ryehill Gardens, provided pictures of havoc caused in Rugby Terrace and Moor Terrace by the bombardment.

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.