The deadly rain of metal when war came to Hartlepool in 1914

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WHEN war come to Hartlepool in 1914, it was not just direct hits from shells which took the lives of people.

More than 100 people died in the bombardment, and many more injured.

The sheer size and ferocity of the German naval attack caused much of the death and destruction.

Hartlepool museums manager Mark Simmons told Family Roots that the biggest shells used against Hartlepool were not even intended to be fired at houses.

They were so huge, they were intended to pierce through the thick plate armour of British battleships.

In the aftermath of the battle, the fragments of shells were gathered.

Their edges were so sharp, they were razor-like, sharp enough to kill, despite only being part of the original shell.

To indicate the extent of the attack, history shows the windows at the Town Hall, in Hartlepool, were “broken simply by air concussion by shells exploding at some distance”.

People would have died from the splinters from the exploding shells, said Mr Simmons.

He added “When they exploded, they broke into hundreds of pieces.

“Some were tiny and were just the size of a cocktail stick, but others were much bigger. If you were hit by one of them, you died.”

In all, 1,500 shells were fired upon Hartlepool.

People who were in their path stood little chance of survival.

l The Mail is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War throughout 2014.

A series of commemorative supplements will be published in the paper, with coverage continuing until the centenary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool, in December.

If you have Great War memorabilia or a story about a local relative who served in the conflict then please contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239380.