MP WRITES: Remember Hartlepool’s brave history

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This weekend marks the most important of my year as the town’s MP.

This is because it is Remembrance Sunday, a time for Hartlepool to remember the sacrifices made by Hartlepool men and women – both in the Armed Forces and as civilians – in the defence of this country’s freedom.

This year is particularly important and poignant, because it is the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The town has a big role in the history of the First World War.

The Bombardment of the Hartlepools in December marked the first bombing on the mainland and the first time a British soldier had been killed on home soil for almost 200 years, as well as the killing of innocent men, women and children.

In addition, many Hartlepool men signed up to fight Germany.

The Durham Light Infantry, with Hartlepool volunteers, had a battalion which recruited in Hartlepool in August and then went out to fight in France for the 1915 campaign.

There are a number of services taking place and I hope as many from our town as possible will join in to pause and reflect.

On Saturday, a service takes place in Stranton Cemetery, close to the War memorial and military part of the cemetery at Tanfield Road.

Last year I found it particularly emotional to hear Harry Hardy, a great veteran, recite the They Shall Not Grow Old part of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.

Children are particularly encouraged to take part in the service, and will have the opportunity to lay a poppy during the ceremony.

Seeing the ages of some of those service men and women who have fallen is always chilling, given how young some of them were.

This event is getting busier and busier every year, so I would recommend getting there at about 10.30 – 10.40 am.

Remembrance Services take place on Sunday. One – the West Hartlepool one – will take place at Victory Square next to the Civic Centre.

Another – the one taking place at old Hartlepool – is located at the Headland War Memorial in Redheugh Gardens, not very far from where the Bombardment took place and the defence carried out by the Heugh Gun Battery.

Both events start with parades assembling at about 10.30, so I would recommend getting there for around then.

Remembrance Sunday events become better attended with each passing year.

It seems that as a country we become ever increasingly aware of the sacrifices made, and ever grateful to those who have fallen to allow us to live in peace and freedom.

That should never be taken for granted. I hope that you are able to pay your respects and that we as a town can come together to pay our respects and express our gratitude, reflecting the very solemn fact that we will remember them.