When we first entered the Royal Navy Museum, we were greeted by our main guide for the day, David. After a quick introduction to the team, he led us through the museum and to the WW1 segment. The majority of the museum focused upon the history of Hartlepool. However, our main interest lay in the gold dust of information pertaining to WW1. This section of the museum focused on the Hartlepool bombings and had some interesting information on the people who lived there at the time. We were first asked to view a documentary style projection which was voiced by an older gentleman and provided some imagery to support the speech. The projection provided an insight into World War 1, with some information which I was aware of, such as the development of chemical warfare and women beginning to be employed into ammunition’s whilst the men went out to fight the war.
However, the projection also touched upon some information I wasn’t aware of, primarily in regards to the bombing of Hartlepool. One of the most intriguing facts I learnt during the projection was just how many people were injured and affected by the bombing. A total of 1123 people were affected. One hundred and fourteen of these people were civilians who died during the attack, whilst nine soldiers died, some of whom were not stationed at the time. The other nine hundred were the seriously injured. Injuries included loss of limbs, shrapnel stuck inside the body, damaged organs and other long-term or irreversible injuries. The sheer number of people that were affected in a short 50 minute attack surprised me, as I hadn’t expected this kind of devastation. But when looking at the names and ages of these people, so many of those who were killed were young children, the youngest just being 6 months old. It’s difficult to imagine that during the course of one morning, these normal people; adults, children and elderly folk were participating in average day to day events when suddenly they found themselves under the firing line, watching friends, loved ones, even children being killed in such an awful event. It really makes it clear why the event is so important to remember.
Another interesting piece of information which was provided both during the projection and through the quaint displays within this section of the museum was about the first British Soldier to die on British soil. His name was Theophilus Jones and prior to signing up for the Durham Light Infantry, he had been a passionate headmaster who assisted in the teaching and upkeep of his school and ensured that he provided the best potential for his students. A man of the community, he withdrew from his teaching role and enrolled into the DLI quickly and sought to assist in any way he could. Being stationed within the battalion at the time of the attack. He was killed during the bombing, the first bomb sending iron shrapnel into his body and mortally wounding him. The unfortunate news was sent to his family and the community reacted together, with many flocking to his funeral service, as many as 500 members of the county battalion and his friends and family from the Schools he taught in and his local cricket club where he volunteered time as a coach. This man being such a valued member of the community must have been a devastating loss to all who knew him. On his person was a bible, with a piece of the iron shrapnel digging through the front and almost piercing through to the other side. I feel this shows just how much force was coming from each of the bomb fragments and how the other pieces would have impacted the ground and people surrounding them.
The final artefact that caught my eye was a clock which was struck during the bombardment. This clock broke upon impact and details the exact time the bomb will have struck upon the home it had been perched in. I took inspiration on this and began deliberating ideas on time and how this could be used to represent attacks through frozen imagery. A ticking clock is always an effective way to represent the time flow and show just how short the bombing on Hartlepool lasted.
Jade, Steering Committee