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Heroism and Heartbreak - Talking Histories

Details about Heroism And Heartbreak - Talking Histories

Created through the 'Heroism & Hearbreak: True Tales from the Hartlepools at War' Project, these "Talking Histories" tell the often forgotten stories of the Hartlepools' Merchant Seamen and Fishermen who lost  their lives during the First World War. 

The 'Heroism & Heartbreak' Project - At the outbreak of war, the Hartlepools were major North-East ports, home to a number of well-known shipping companies and thriving shipbuilding and fishing industries. Almost every family in the town had links with the sea, with many having relatives serving in the Merchant Navy and local fishing fleets. Within this close-knit community the loss of every local ship and crewman deeply affected a great many people.

As the war progressed, German U-boats and mines took a huge toll of allied shipping, eventually sinking over 2,500 British merchant ships and nearly 800 fishing vessels, with the loss of more than 17,000 lives. Of these, over 400 merchant ships had either been built or owned in the town and more than 260 Hartlepool sailors lost their lives. Sailing on slow, un-armed and defenceless merchant ships, their actions were every bit as selfless and courageous as those fighting on the Western Front, yet their stories are all but forgotten or overlooked.

“Heroism and Heartbreak” aims to rediscover and retell these stories – but we need your help.

We would love to hear from anyone with a photograph, letter or diary from a family member who served in the Merchant Navy, Royal Navy or in the local Fishing Fleets during WW1. For more information please contact us by e-mail: (infodesk@hartlepool.gov.uk),  telephone: 01429 242909, or by calling in to Hartlepool Central Library.


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