Over in 50 minutes but a lifetime of hurt – how Hartlepool recovered from the Bombardment

One of the photographs that form part oif the exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool.
One of the photographs that form part oif the exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool.

IT was all over in just about 50 minutes.

The German ships had caused devastation across the Hartlepools and left behind a scene of destruction. Today, CHRIS CORDNER - with the help of Wally Stewart at the Heugh Gun Battery, takes a look at how the town coped with the aftermath of the Bombardment.

AS the German ships slipped back into the cover of mist - their damage done - Hartlepool was left to pick up the pieces.

Wally Stewart. Bombardment of Hartlepool.

Wally Stewart. Bombardment of Hartlepool.

Four hundred special police officers were called into action. Their job was to calm the population and warn them of the threat of unexploded shells.

Wally told us: “Surprisingly, considering such traumatic events, the Hartlepools recovered quite quickly.”

Instead of using public transport, people walked to work. Miss Delia Bygott, a teacher at Ann Crooks School in Hartlepool left West Hartlepool for work at 8.30am.

“Along the route, she saw many scenes of devastation, including a demolished house with the upstairs fireplace intact, complete with a teapot on the hob,” said Wally.

“Miss Bygott reached her workplace at 10.30am, only to find it wrecked. Elsewhere survivors were calling out for loved ones, and soldiers were clearing the streets of the dead and wounded.”

The hospitals were overloaded and yet Hartlepool soon found itself with extra visitors. Tourists came to have a look at the town which was bombed.

Local children made money by selling bits of shrapnel.

Wally added: “The next day in both Hartlepools, coroners inquiries were held, to ascertain causes of death. In West Hartlepool, the coroner said that there was no precedent for the guidance of the jury, and they should make their own.”

The verdict given in all cases was that the victims were killed by shots and shells from German ships, fired under cover of mist.

There were 34 children who perished in Hartlepool alone.

On January 24, 1915, the Blucher was sunk and all hands lost. The Seydlitz was crippled by British battle cruisers.

All members of the Batteries received the British War Medal.