The grandson of a Hartlepool First World War victim has given Mail readers a timely reminder of the ‘other heroes’.
Britain is this weekend remembering its fallen Forces on the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice.
But James A Gilman highlighted the people of Hartlepool who equally deserved to be remembered - the victims of the 1914 Bombardment including his maternal grandfather, Adjutant William Avery.
He was the commanding officer of the Salvation Army in Hartlepool and his death was front page news in papers as far away as Australia.
As James told us: “He was accorded a military funeral through the streets of Hartlepool which were lined with soldiers as his body, laid on a gun carriage, passed by on the way to the cemetery where the Mayor of Hartlepool led the mourners.”
I felt urged to remind you of the other heroes of that war - the civilians who were slaughtered in the course of the Naval BombardmentJames A Gilman
A report in one Australian newspaper said William Avery left a widow and five children.
James, now 86, has been moved to write his own poem of remembrance. It said;
The poppies fall.
Their crimson tears
Like shrapnel, piercing every heart
Of those who mourn the dying blood
Enshrouding friend and foe alike
On Flanders Field.
So scour our conscience
With your flood
Till we ensure that never more
Shall nations let Death’s bloody dance
Seduce the souls of friend and foe
Like Flanders Field.
The Bombardment of Hartlepool happened on the morning of December 16, 1914.
A total of 130 people, including 37 children, were killed when German warships off the coast fired more than a thousand shells just after 8am.
Private Theophilus Jones was the first British soldier to be killed on home soil in 200 years, and Adjutant William Avery was one of the first civilians to die in the onslaught.
More than 500 others were injured.
The Heugh Gun Battery Museum defended the town from the German attack which saw 1.100 shells land on Hartlepool soil over a period of 40 minutes from 8.10am.
This year’s annual commemoration of the Bombardment will be held as usual on December 16.
It will see people gather at Redheugh Gardens where the Headand’s war memorial is situated for 8am.
At the same time, a parade will muster at the Heugh Gun Battery Museum.
There will be free entry to the museum for the rest of the day and there will also be a small programme of events, with further information to come.