Gun fire sounds in Hartlepool as town remembers devastating First World War Bombardment

Hartlepool remembered its fallen on the 106th anniversary of the most devastating day in the town’s modern history.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 11:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 11:26 am

At least 137 adults and children died in the Bombardment of the Hartlepools, as the area was then called, when the German Navy blitzed the North-East coastline on December 16, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War.

Ongoing social distancing measures following the coronavirus pandemic meant that the traditional annual service on the Headland had to be cancelled this year.

But the Heugh Battery Museum, which defended the town as an active gun battery in 1914, was determined that the anniversary would still be acknowledged.

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Heugh Battery Museum volunteers fire a field gun to remember the victims of the Bombardment of the Hartlepools.

Its 25pdr saluting gun was fired by museum volunteers on Wednesday at 8.10am to mark the exact moment that the first German shell hit the Hartlepools.

Two minutes of silence followed before the gun was fired again.

Around 25 members of the public had gathered around the nearby Redheugh Gardens war memorial to pay their respects.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill laid a wreath, the Royal Engineers’ Association raised standards and members of the Durham Pals Re-enactment Group stood to attention in military uniforms before marching away at the end of the silence.

Members of the Durham Pals Re-enactment Group at the Redheugh Gardens War Memorial.

Museum manager Diane Stephens said: “Everything went very well and it was lovely to see a few members of the public make the effort in the awful weather to pay their respects and to observe social distance guidelines.

"We were determined to make sure the anniversary was marked and hopefully next year we can do something more elaborate.”

Areas of both the Headland and West Hartlepool were targeted by three German warships with around 1,100 shells fired through the fog-shrouded sky in just 40 minutes.

The exact number of fatalities is still unclear as casualties were still dying from their injuries months and years later.

Hundreds of people across the Hartlepools were also injured in the raid.

Anyone who missed Wednesday morning’s event can still pay their own tribute.

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