Book sheds light on role of Hartlepool in Great War

A resident with some of the damage caused by a 12-in shell in West Hartlepool during the bombardment of the town in 1914.
A resident with some of the damage caused by a 12-in shell in West Hartlepool during the bombardment of the town in 1914.

A new book detailing the impact of the First World War on Hartlepool has hit the shelves.

Hartlepool in the Great War, published by Pen & Sword Books and written by ex-police officer Stephen Wynn, is out now.

A home that was destroyed in the bombardment.

A home that was destroyed in the bombardment.

As well as the infamous Bombardment of Hartlepool, the 192-page paperback also details what happened to a number of German civilians who lived in the town when war broke out and the rush of men to sign up to serve their country through to celebrations across Hartlepool when the war ended, and the numerous war memorials in the town.

The publishers said: “The war came to Hartlepool in the shape of three vessels of the Imperial German Navy on the morning of Wednesday, 16 December 1914.

“By the time their attack was over, more than 1,100 artillery shells had landed on the town, killing nine soldiers, 86 civilians and wounding a further 438.”

Among the dead was 29-year-old Private 18/295 Theophilus Jones of the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.

Hartlepool in the Great War front cover

Hartlepool in the Great War front cover

He was the first British serviceman to be killed on British soil as a result of enemy action during the course of the war.

Even before the bombardment, men had been quick to join up.

The book tells how on August 30, 1914, a Mr Horsley, of West Hartlepool, organised a fleet of 20 loaned vehicles to collect men from East Durham coal villages and deliver them to recruiting offices in Hartlepool to enlist.

Author Stephen writes: “By noon on Saturday 5 September, the total number of recruits who had enrolled in the Army at Hartlepool stood at the staggering figure of 3,200.”

When war broke out, a number of individuals of German descent living in and around Hartlepool were rounded up and detained by the British military authorities.

Stephen writes in the book: “They were held at the town’s Stranton Ice Rink in the interests of national security and for their own personal safety.

“Their numbers included the ex-German Consul for the Hartlepool district, as well as other residents, some of whom had lived in the town for many years.”

Stephen first book, published in 2010, was Two Sons in a War Zone Afghanistan: The True Story of a Fathers Conflict, is a personal account of his sons’ first tours in Afghanistan.

Hartlepool in the Great War is priced £12.99 and is available on Amazon now.