The Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowdon, unveiling a new memorial in Hartlepool, with the town's ceremonial Mayor, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher (Photo: courtesy of Hartlepool Borough Council)

Centenary Update: Hartlepool also marks bombardment with day of commemorations

Posted on on 16 December 2014
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As well as events in Scarborough, tributes were also paid today to the 130 people who were killed when German warships attacked the North Sea port of Hartlepool on December 16th 1914.

More than 1,000 shells were fired at the town in a bombardment which started at daybreak, mirroring the similar raids further south on Whitby and Scarborough.

Hartlepool's Heugh Gun Battery returned fire. One of its men, Theo Jones of the Durham Light Infantry, became the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the First World War.

Exactly a century later, on Tuesday December 16th 2014, Hartlepool remembered its dead with a day of civic and community events organised by Hartlepool Council in partnership with the Heugh Gun Battery Trust.

Remembrance started with a formal outdoor service at Hartlepool's existing First World War memorial from 8am- 9am, the time of the German naval attack in 1914 (Photo: Hartlepool Borough Council)

The highlight of the Centenary commemorations was the unveiling of a new Bombardment Memorial near the Headland lighthouse by the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon.

Hartlepool’s Mayor, Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “The bombardment of the Hartlepools was an event of massive significance, not only locally but nationally.

“One hundred years to the day, the Hartlepool community is coming together to remember those who died and to unveil a lasting memorial to their memory.

“It is especially poignant that descendants of the civilians who were killed will be taking part in the day, together with representatives of the military organisations which lost personnel."

The names of the 130 victims were read out and pupils from St Aidan's Primary School planted 130 ceramic poppies from the recent display at the Tower of London, together with a corresponding number of wooden crosses.

Private Theo Jones, the soldier killed at Heugh Gun Battery, was a teacher at St Aidan's.

The poppies were later moved to the Museum of Hartlepool, for display in the bombardment exhibition from December 17th 2014.

Representatives of the four military units which suffered losses in the 1914 attack - the Durham Light Infantry, the Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy - laid plaques at the new memorial.

Wreaths were also laid by Dale Minks on behalf of descendants of the families who died.  

The day culminated in an outdoor theatre performance in the Headland Town Square. 

'Homecoming,' created by the theatre company Periplum,  uses pyrotechnics and specially-commissioned music and visual effects to tell the stories of local residents' contributions to the war effort, both on the home front and on foreign battlefields.

CN Editor Nigel Dacre has reported from Scarborough on the commemorations there. You can read his article here.

Information & images supplied by Hartlepool Borough Council

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News