Hartlepool MP Mike Hill: 'Remember our countrymen and all those who fought alongside them'
Just opposite my house at number 87 lived a young man called G Gutridge; nothing remarkable in that you might think, except that the same G Gutridge was killed at the age of 22 during the First World War.
He was one of more than 50 who perished from the small parish of Stranton alone, and the 1,747 Hartlepool men who gave the ultimate sacrifice during that conflict.
This year is the centenary of the end of the 1914-18 War and events are happening right across the country and beyond our shores in commemoration.
Here in Hartlepool a number of things are happening in the run up to Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and beyond.
Beacons are being lit on the Headland and Seaton Carew; Soldier Silhouettes have been commissioned and I look forward to seeing the one on the Headland; a field of crosses to remember each and every one of the 1,747 is being created around the main cenotaph and as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project, I am working with the council to create a special place for reflection.
The area of native trees called the ‘Memorial Wood’ will be officially named by the Lord Lieutenant on Friday, November 16.
Five of the trees were presented to me by the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a unique network of forest conservation initiatives which involves all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
Related: Hartlepool's Roll of Honour to mark Armistice 100
It’s a special, peaceful space and one which also commemorates 100 years since the end of the First World War and is a lasting memorial to those who fell.
Nowadays it’s the Commonwealth, but back in 1914 it was known as the British Empire and there were close to 80 Dominions that fought in the First World War.
Many were from the then undivided India, comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Troops also came from the West Indies, parts of Africa, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and there was even a Chinese labour Corps.
More than 1,000,000 men from ethnic minorities served in the Great War.
In 2013 Baroness Warsi said: “Our boys were not just Tommies – they were Tariqs and Tajinders too.
“They came from many nations and held many faiths.”
When we remember the many of our own Countrymen who lost their lives in the so-called ‘War to end all wars’ a century ago.
We should also remember those from the many nations who bravely fought alongside them.
I will certainly be doing so when attending the commemorative ceremony at Stranton Cemetery this Saturday and at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.