Fallen Hartlepool soldier to be etched in the sand for national Danny Boyle war project

Theophilus Jones
Theophilus Jones

The first British soldier to be killed on home soil at Hartlepool during the First World War is to be remembered as part of a national event produced by movie director Danny Boyle to mark the centenary of Armistice Day

Private Theophilus Jones was killed in the Bombardment of Hartlepool on December 16 in 1914 when German battleships opened fire on the town.

Private Jones is to be commemorated by a large-scale sand portrait at Redcar for the Pages of the Sea project that film director Boyle has been commissioned to produce.

He is one of 32 ordinary people who gave their lives to the war effort chosen by The Beach and Trainspotting director Boyle for the project which is being marked at beaches around the UK on Remembrance Sunday.

People are invited to assemble Redcar beach for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance.Designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, the portrait of Private Jones will be drawn into the sand on the beach and washed away as the tide comes in.

The public are also invited to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.Danny, who was also behind the London Olympics’ spectacular opening ceremony, said: "They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War.

The aftermath of the Bombardment of Hartlepool

The aftermath of the Bombardment of Hartlepool

"I’m inviting people to watch as the faces of the fallen are etched in the sand, and for communities to come together to remember the sacrifices that were made.”

Born in Darlington in 1885, Private Jones moved to Leicestershire where he worked as a school headteacher.

When war was declared in August 1914, Theophilus returned to the North East and volunteered for service as a private with the 18th Durham Light Infantry.

In October 1914, his address was given as 44 Ash Grove, West Hartlepool.

A plaque marking where Private Jones was killed

A plaque marking where Private Jones was killed

But only two months later he was killed in the Bombardment of Hartlepool while guarding the Heugh Gun Battery on the Headland.

Hartlepool was targeted for its iron works and shipyards. In all, 1150 shells rained down on the town, killing 117 people.

Theophilus is buried in Stranton cemetery and his funeral was attended by 500 members of the county battalion plus members of the Schools Athletic Association and West

Hartlepool Cricket Club.

A Baptist chapel damaged by German shells

A Baptist chapel damaged by German shells

Hundreds more gathered outside of the church and along the route to the cemetery.

Each Pages of the Sea event is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, a programme of arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.