YOUNG and old came together to pay their respects to the victims of the Bombardment of Hartlepool during a poignant 99th anniversary service.
The Heugh Gun Battery on the Headland held an emotional ceremony to remember the part played and the price paid by Hartlepool during the attack that took place on December 16, 1914.
Civic dignitaries and representatives from town organisations were joined by children from St Helen’s Primary School and St John Vianney RC Primary School for the service.
The Headland fell silent as the dozens of people who gathered for the anniversary service bowed their heads.
It was held at the Memorial Gardens at 8.10am yesterday morning to mark the exact moment when the Imperial German Navy ships began firing 1,150 shells at the town.
The bombardment resulted in 118 deaths and more than 400 people injured.
At the service, wreaths were laid and schoolchildren released 37 balloons to remember the children who were killed.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “I think it is incredibly important for Hartlepool to remember the wartime atrocity that took place in our town 99 years ago.
“This was a significant event in history, not only for Hartlepool, but for the entire nation, as this was the first time the homeland had been attacked in the First World War and the first fatality of a British soldie on British soil for almost 200 years.
“It is the human tragedy, not the historic significance, which is why we should still remember. Time doesn’t diminish the shocking impact the bombardment had on the people of Hartlepool.
“Some families, many of whom still live in the town, lost two or three children in the bombardment.
“It is for this reason why it is so important for Hartlepool to pause and reflect on December 16, and why it will be particularly significant next year, as we mark the centenary anniversary of the bombardment of the Hartlepools.”
Labour councillor and deputy mayor of Hartlepool Borough Council, Kevin Cranney, said: “The service was very poignant.
“It was nice to see the schoolchildren involved because it is important for them to be aware of the history.”
The Heugh Gun Battery defended the town during the attack.
Joe Foster, a director at the Heugh Gun Battery, said: “As always, there was a good turn out of people that came to pay their respects.
“The Army and Air cadets were also in attendance alongside the children from the two schools.”
Streets affected during the destruction included Moor Terrace, Scarborough Street, Crimdon Street, Noel Street, Dene Street, and Blake Street.
The Reverend Chris Collison, of St Hilda’s Church, on the Headland, conducted the service.
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