Pupils narrate eye-witness accounts from the Bombardment of Hartlepool

BIG VOICES: The St Hild's students with BBC Tees producer Lee Johnson.
BIG VOICES: The St Hild's students with BBC Tees producer Lee Johnson.

THE next generation have given their voice to stories from the past as they help mark the 100th anniversary of the German Navy’s bombardment of Hartlepool.

Nine Year 11 students from St Hild’s Church of England School have narrated eye-witness accounts of the bombardment from a book – The Day the East Coast Bled – by author Mark Marsay.

The evocative recordings will to be broadcast by BBC Tees at intervals throughout the day as part its centenary coverage on Tuesday.

A total of 130 civilians and military personnel were killed and more than 500 wounded when German warships fired more than 1,000 shells on Hartlepool just after 8am on December 16, 1914.

The Headland’s Heugh Gun Battery returned fire in what was the only battle to be fought on British soil during the First World War, and one of the battery’s soldiers, Theo Jones of the Durham Light Infantry, became the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the war.

St Hild’s agreed to get involved in BBC Tees’ coverage of the centenary after being approached by the radio station and the students – Jack Fincken, James Brennan, Liam Checksfield, Jordan Fielding, Laura Leighton, Leah Dixon, Peter Gannon, Bethany Leck and Thomas Moody – spent a morning recording their accounts with producer Lee Johnson.

Mr Johnson said: “The students have been excellent and they have really brought to life some of the graphic eye-witness accounts contained within Mark Marsay’s book.

“Their recordings will be dropped into our shows throughout the day and will be a key part of the comprehensive coverage we are planning to mark this important milestone in the history of Hartlepool.”

Performing arts teacher June Walker, who helped the students to prepare by providing one-to-one vocal technique tuition, said: “They worked very, very hard in the run-up to the recording session, each putting in around 10 hours of practice. “Their efforts certainly paid off on the day of the recording session as they all did very well.

“The project has also had wider benefits in that it has helped the students make a very personal connection with their own community and its history.”